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THE  NATURE  OF  MIND 


AND 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 


BY 

MORTON   PRINCE,  M.D., 

PHYSICIAN   FOR   NERVOUS    DISEASES,    BOSTON    DISPENSARY;    PHYSICIAN    FOR    NERVOUS 
DISEASES,  OUT-PATIENT   DEPARTMENT,  BOSTON    CITY   HOSPITAL,  ETC. 


PHILADELPHIA: 

•      J.  B,  LIPPINCOTT   COMPANY. 
LONDON:  15  RUSSELL  STREET,  CO  VENT  GARDEN 

1885. 


9"^ 


Copyright,  1885,  by  Morton  Prince. 


iiIIistereotvpersandprinters'IIi. 


PEEFAOE. 


The  basis  of  the  following  work  was  written  some 
eight  or  nine  years  ago  during  my  student  days  at  the 
medical  school,  and  afterwards  served  as  a  graduation 
thesis.  Having  been  urged  to  publish  this  thesis  by  my 
friends,  it  was  enlarged  between  two  and  three  years  ago 
to  its  present  size.  I  do  not  think  that  the  views  ex- 
pressed in  the  earlier  essay  have  been  changed  in  any 
important  particular,  though  the  phraseology  has  been  in 
many  passages  altered,  partly  to  make  it  harmonize  with 
the  conventional  forms  of  expression  used  generally  by 
writers  on  this  subject,  and  partly  because  mature  reflec- 
tion made  me  aware  that  some  of  the  original  terms 
and  phrases  employed  either  did  not  correctly  explain 
my  meaning,  or  were  lacking  in  precision  and  conse- 
quently capable  of  different  interpretations.  Many 
points  which  were  of  necessity  merely  touched  upon  in 
the  earlier  essay  and  hence  liable  to  misinterpretation, 
have  been  since  greatly  expanded,  and,  especially  in  the 
chapter  on  "  Self-Determination,^^  explained  more  fully, 
extended  reasons  being  given  for  the  conclusions  ex- 
pressed. The  final  chapter,  on  '^Materialism,^'  has  been 
entirely  added.  As  I  have  pursued  my  studies  on  this 
subject,  the  views  of  other  writers  have  been  so  far  in- 
corporated and  criticised  as  has  been  thought  would 
make  the  subject-matter  clearer. 

iii 


iv  PREFA  CE. 

The  primary  object  of  this  book  is  to  discuss  certain 
problems  of  mind  and  matter — particularly  the  rela- 
tion between  the  mind  and  the  brain — simply  as  ques- 
tions of  psychology  and  physiology^  without  regard  to 
the  bearing  they  may  have  on  philosophical  doctrines. 
Still,  all  such  questions  lie  so  deeply  at  the  root  of  the 
latter,  that  it  is  impossible  to  discuss  the  one  without 
regarding  the  effect  they  have  upon  the  other.  Hence 
I  have  not  hesitated  to  enter  into  the  doctrine  of  Mate- 
rialism so  far  as  it  is  affected  by  the  conclusions  arrived 
at.  Such  questions  as  the  relation  of  the  mind  to  the 
body  constitute  the  foundation  of  Spiritualism  and 
Materialism.  The  latter,  as  a  result  of  the  great  ad- 
vancement which  has  been  made  by  science  during  the 
last  half-century,  has  of  recent  years  awakened  re- 
newed interest  and  discussion.  This  has  been  directly 
due  in  no  small  degree  to  the  writings  of  such  men, 
among  others,  as  Spencer,  Huxley,  Clifford,  and  Mauds - 
ley,  in  England,  Vogt,  Moleschott,  and  Biichner,  in 
Germany,  who,  whether  all  of  them  have  espoused  ma- 
terialistic opinions  or  not,  have  at  any  rate  given  new 
energy  to  the  materialistic  school,  and  aroused  the 
opposition  of  the  anti-materialists.  It  is  not  always 
eas}',  however,  to  correctly  classify  many  prominent 
writers,  as  so  much  that  is  directly  contradictory  is 
found  in  their  writings.  It  is  not  uncommon  to  read 
on  one  page  that  a  given  author  emphatically  denies 
materialism,  and  on  the  next  to  find  what  is  apparently 
the  most  pronounced  materialism.  But,  notwithstand- 
ing the  strong  ground  on  which  it  is  intrenched,  and 
the  great  help  which  it  has  received  from  science,  ma- 
terialism has  met  with  strong  opposition.     Its  oppo- 


PREFACE,  V 

nents,  it  must  be  confessed,  have  made  their  attacks 
from  all  sides,  with  considerable  vigor,  and  eflPectively 
brought  to  bear  arguments  based  on  philosophy  and 
science.  And  yet,  in  spite  of  all  its  short-comings, 
materialism  is  essentially  the  philosophy  of  science, 
and  hence  that  which  must  eventually  prevail.  All 
attacks  against  it  have  served  only  to  show  its  weak 
places,  not  to  break  it  down.  Still,  it  cannot  be  denied 
that  some  of  the  objections  urged  against  such  forms 
of  materialism  as  have  been  maintained  by  even  its 
ablest  advocates  have  been  well  founded.  This,  it 
seems  to  me,  has  not  been  the  fault  of  the  doctrine,  but 
rather  of  its  expounders.  Not  only  have  false  mean- 
ings been  attributed  to  it  by  its  opponents,  but  even  its 
advocates  have  not  always  understood  its  first  princi- 
ples, and  the  conclusions  which  have  been  drawn  from 
scientific  data  have  sometimes  been  directly  in  contra- 
diction to  the  teachings  of  experience.  Whatever 
merit  the  views  advocated  in  the  following  pages  may 
have,  it  is  to  be  hoped  that  they  at  least  harmonize  some 
of  the  hitherto  conflicting  theories  and  facts,  and  that 
the  really  valid  objections  to  materialism  are  avoided. 
In  the  maintenance  of  the  materialistic  nature  of  mind, 
certain  difiSculties  have  almost  universally  been  recog- 
nized, especially  on  the  side  of  "  automatism,'^  ''  self-de- 
termination,''  and  in  the  application  of  the  law  of  the 
Correlation  of  Forces,  etc.,  which  it  has  been  difficult 
to  overcome.  Nay,  more,  while  it  has  been  seen  that 
mind  is  to  be  regarded  as  some  sort  of  "  manifestation 
of  matter,'^  yet  most  writers  are  ready  to  admit  the  im- 
possibility of  explaining  the  exact  connection  between 
the  two,  and  confess  an  insoluble  mystery.     Many  of 


y[  PREFACE. 

the  most  thoroughgoing  materialists  content  themselves 
with  stating  the  intimate  union  of  the  mental  and  physi- 
cal worlds,  without  attempting  to  explain  how  they  are 
united.  The  views  maintained  in  the  following  pages,  it 
is  thought,  both  overcome  these  difficulties  and  furnish 
a  satisfactory  explanation  of  many  of  the  mysteries  of 
the  mind,  including  its  relation  to  the  body  and  other 
kindred  questions.  The  conclusions  expressed  as  to 
the  nature  of  the  mind  avoid,  I  believe,  the  objections 
which  have  proved  fatal  to  other  materialistic  doctrines. 

There  is  one  writer  whose  writings  I  regret  to  have 
overlooked  until  long  after  this  work  was  completed, 
and  a  short  time  before  going  to  press.  I  refer  to  the 
late  Professor  Clifford,  who,  so  far  as  I  know,  is  the 
only  writer  whose  views  on  the  relation  of  the  mind  to 
the  body  coincide  with  those  expressed  in  these  pages. 
I  regret  that  it  was  not  practicable  to  refer  to  Clifford's 
writings  more  fully  in  the  text,  but  references  have 
been  made  in  foot-notes  when  there  appeared  to  be 
reason  for  doing  so. 

The  original  essay  was  withheld  from  print  during 
these  many  years  for  several  reasons,  not  the  least 
among  them  being  the  desire  to  reflect  well  on  so  diffi- 
cult a  subject,  which  has  already  baffled  some  of  the 
ablest  minds  the  world  has  ever  produced,  before  com- 
mitting myself  to  a  public  expression  of  opinion.  But 
I  may  add  that  continued  study  and  maturer  thought 
has  only  strengthened  me  in  the  views  originally  formed. 

Boston,  March,  1885. 


OOIsTTEI^TS. 


THE   NATURE   OF   MIND. 


CHAPTER    I. 

THE   MODERN"   DOCTRINE    OF    THE    RELATION    OE    THE    MIND    TO 

THE   BODY. 

PAGE 

Introductory — Spiritualism  and  Materialism — Purpose  of 
this  Work— The  Physical  Basis  of  Mind— The  Theory  of 
Functions — The  Theory  of  Aspects — The  Inadequacy  of 
both  Theories — The  Usual  Explanation  no  Explanation — 
The  Real  Questions  to  be  answered — The  Logical  Deduc- 
tions from  these  Theories  inconsistent  with  the  known 
Pacts — The  Inadequacy  of  the  Usual  Explanation  gener- 
ally recognized  ;  by  Spencer  ;  by  Tyndall — Fiske — Logical 
Conditions  of  the  Problem — Bain — One  Cause  of  Hostility 
to  Materialism — The  Notion  of  Double  Properties  enter- 
tained by  Tyndall ;  by  Bain — Mind  does  act  upon  Body — 
Views  of  Lewes 3-27 

CHAPTER    II. 

THE    TRITE   NATURE    OF    THE   PROBLEM   TO    BE    SOLYED. 

Statement  of  the  Theorem  to  be  proved — Meaning  of  Sub- 
jective and  Objective — What  is  meant  by  Matter  and 
Motion- — Pour  Different  Conceptions  of  Matter — Careless- 
ness in  the  Use  of  the  Term  Matter — What  is  meant  by 
Cerebral  Activities — Their  True  Nature — Sources  of  Error 
in  investigating  the  Problem — Parallelism  between  Phys- 
ical and  Mental  Processes — Fiske  on  this  Parallelism — 
Fallacy  of  the  Theory  of  Parallelism— Spencer     .         .  28-43 

vii 


viii  CONTENTS, 

CHAPTER    III. 

THE   SOLUTION. 

PAQE 

The  Argument — The  Brain  as  the  Organ  of  the  Mind — 
Grounds  for  helieving  Consciousness  to  be  Dependent 
upon  Molecular  Motions  in  the  Brain — Nature  of  the 
Dependence — Four  Possible  Explanations — The  Second 
only  probable — Consciousness  the  Reality  of  Physical 
Processes — Apparent  Paradox — The  Eeal  Question  not 
how  Physical  Processes  are  transformed  into  Consciousness 
— Lewes — Explanation  of  the  Paradox — Nature  of  the 
Association  between  Consciousness  and  the  "  accompany- 
ing Physical  Changes'' 44-60 

CHAPTERIY. 

THE    NATURE    OF    THE    MIND. 

The  Ultimate  Nature  of  Mind — Consciousness  an  Ultimate 
— Difficulty  of  understanding  the  Transition  between 
Mind  and  Body  avoided — Carpenter — Ferrier — There  are 
not  Two  Processes,  but  One — Feeling  is  not  accompanied 
by  Molecular  Changes — It  is  not  inconceivable  that  Mind 
should  have  been  produced  from  Matter  ;  Reply  to  Fiske 
— Spencer  and  the  Substance  of  *Mind — The  Insufficiency 
of  the  Notion  of  Mind  being  a  Symbol  of  something  else ; 
also  of  the  Theory  of  Aspects — Matter  and  Mind  as  Dif- 
ferent Modes  of  apprehending  something  else — Deduc- 
tions from  the  foregoing  Principle .         .         .        .         .  61-82 

CHAPTER    Y. 

THE    CORRELATION    OF    FORCES. 

The  Applicability  of  the  Law  to  Mental  Action— Meaning 
of  the  Law — Objections  to  its  Application  as  offered  by 
Fiske — Objections  answered — Materialism  not  inconsist- 
ent with  this  Law 83-90 


CONTENTS.  ix 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 


CHAPTER    I. 

THE    REFLEX    CHARACTER   OF    IDEAS. 

PAGE 

Logical  Consequences  of  the  Preceding  Doctrine  —  Law  of 
Inertia — Consciousness  is  Passive,  not  Active — All  Mus- 
cular and  Mental  Action  Reflex — Apparent  Objection  to 
this  Conclusion — Use  of  the  Term  Reflex  to  describe  Psy- 
chical Facts 93-98 

CHAPTER    I L 

CONSCIOUSNESS   AS    AN   AGENT   IN   THE   DETERMINATION    OF 
BODILY   ACTION. 

Automatism  the  Logical  Consequence  of  the  Reflex  Theory 
— Automatism  modified  by  the  Discovery  of  the  I^ature 
of  Mind — Objections  to  Automatism  avoided — Conscious- 
ness an  Agent  in  Determining  Action — Lewes  and  Au- 
tomatism— Huxley — Objections  to  Consciousness  being  a 
Collateral  Product — Experiments  on  Animals — Interpre- 
tation of  these  Experiments — Case  of  the  Fren?h  Ser- 
geant       99-130 

CHAPTER    IIL 

SELF-DETERMINATION.  <-  ' 

Meaning  of  Self-Determination — Agency  by  which  it  is 
accomplished — Nature  of  the  Ego — Self-Determination 
compatible  with  the  Reflex  Theory  and  Automatism — 
All  Action  determined  by  the  Strongest  Motive — Revery 
and  Deliberation — Coleridge — Mozart — General  Conclu- 
sions      131-148 


X  CONTENTS. 

CHAPTEE    lY. 

WHAT    IS    MATERIALISM? 

PAGE 

Vagueness  in  the  Term — Materialism  Misunderstood — Palse 
Meanings  attributed  to  the  Term — Only  Two  Positions 
upon  which  we  can  stand — Showing  that  Mind  is  the 
Keality  of  Matter  does  not  transfer  it  to  Spiritualism — 
Any  Doctrine  which  in  Substance  accepts  this  is  Materi- 
alism— Evolution  shows  that  External  Eorces  are  allied 
in  Nature  to  Consciousness — Materialism  does  not  impair 
the  Dignity  or  Attributes  of  anything  in  the  Universe — 
The  Discovery  of  the  Causation  and  Origin  of  Phenomena 
does  not  alter  the  Phenomena  themselves — Materialism  in 
one  Kespect  more  elevating  than  any  other  Doctrine — 
The  Morality  of  Materialism — Evolution  of  Moral  Prin- 
ciples— Highly-developed  Brain  necessary  for  High  Stand- 
ard of  Morals  among  Eaces — High  Standard  impossible 
among  the  Lower  Eaces — Illustrations  of  this — Absence 
of  the  Moral  Codes  of  Civilized  Nations  not  Evidence  of 
the  Absence  of  all  such  Codes  in  Lower  Eaces — Theo- 
logical Codes  best  suited  to  Man  in  his  Present  State    149-173 


PART    I. 

THE  IvTATUEE  OF  MIE^D. 

''  The  very  idea  of  so  noble,  so  refined,  so  immaterial,  and  so 
exalted  a  being  as  the  anima,  or  even  the  animus,  taking  up  her 
residence,  and  sitting  dabbling,  like  a  tadpole,  all  day  long,  both 
summer  and  winter,  in  a  puddle,  or  in  a  liquid  of  any  kind,  how 
thick  or  thin  soever,  he  would  say,  shocked  his  imagination  :  he 
would  scarce  give  the  doctrine  a  hearing." — Tristram  Shandy^ 
B.  ii.  eh.  19. 


CHAPTER  I. 

THE  MODEEN  DOCTKINE  OF  THE  EELATION  OF 
THE  MIND  TO  THE  BODY. 

"  When  men  have  once  acquiesced  in  untrue  opin- 
ions/^ remarks  Hobbes,  "  and  registered  them  as  authen- 
ticated records  in  their  minds,  it  is  no  less  impossible 
to  speak  intelligibly  to  such  persons  than  to  write 
legibly  on  a  piece  of  paper  already  scribbled  over/^ 
Hence  it  is  that  any  inquiry  like  that  which  is  the 
subject  of  this  work  is  fraught  with  difficulties,  which 
are  due  as  much  to  the  fact  that  most  men  have  already 
acquiesced,  without  question,  in  opinions  of  transmitted 
authority  as  to  the  inherent  obscurity  of  the  matter. 
And  although  those,  who  have  given  especial  thought 
to  such  questions,  and  from  the  stand-point  of  modern 
science  have  studied  anew  the  problem  of  the  relation- 
ship of  the  mind  to  the  body,  have  arrived  at  conclu- 
sions differing  largely  from  the  orthodox  beliefs  held 
by  the  majority  of  even  educated  people,  still,  for  a 
long  time  to  come,  it  cannot  be  expected  that  these  con- 
clusions will  be  very  widely  accepted,  until  at  least 
radical  changes  are  made  in  modern  methods  of  edu- 
cation. And  yet,  if  all  men  could  and  would  wipe 
out  from  their  minds,  as  with  a  sponge,  all  existing 
opinions  on  such  matters,  and  would  begin  anew  to 
build  up  a  doctrine  of  the  nature  of  mind  which  should 
be  in  harmony  with  existing  knowledge,  there  can  be 
no  doubt  that  a  very  different  opinion  would  be  arrived 

8 


4  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

at  than  that  which  obtains  to-day.     It  is  very  difficult 
for  any  one,  brought  up  with  certain  ideas  and  beliefs, 
to  sufficiently  set  aside  these  preconceived   notions  to 
give  due  weight  to  evidence  offered  by  those  of  an  op- 
posed way  of  thinking.     This  is  one  of  the  reasons, 
aside  at  least  from  the  inherent  difficulty  of  the  subject 
and  the  lack  of  exact  knowledge  of  the  mechanism  of 
the  nervous  system,  why  there  has  been  so  much  differ- 
ence of  opinion  regarding  the  relation  of  the  mind  to 
the  body,  and  why  the  opinion  maintained  by  the  gen-r 
erality  of  people  differs  so  widely  from  that  held  by  the 
leaders  in  advanced  thought.     But  though  there  is  a 
wide  chasm  between  the  notions  of  the  unlearned  and 
the  scientific  writers  of  the  day,  there  is  an  equally 
wide  one  between  the  latter  and  another  class  of  men, 
who,  though  learned  in   such  matters,  still,  from  the 
force   of    conservatism,   adhere    to    ancient   scholastic 
creeds.     The  philosophical  world  to-day  is  divided,  as 
it  alw^ays  has  been,  into  two  schools  of  philosophy, — 
the  spiritual  and  the  material,  though  the  latter  may 
be  said  to  be  the  exponent  of  modern  science. 

Spiritualism  endeavors  to  explain  all  mental  phe- 
nomena by  presupposing  the  existence  of  a  spiritual 
something  acting  through  the  brain  as  its  instrument : 
materialism  looks  to  the  properties  of  matter  alone  for 
a  solution.  But  while  spiritualism  simplifies  the  prob- 
lem by  postulating  what  in  one  sense  may  be  consid- 
ered a  definite,  if  incomprehensible,  factor,  materialism 
on  the  other  hand,  protean  in  its  forms,  embraces  many 
doctrines  and  appears  under  many  guises.  Spiritual- 
ism simply  avoids  the  difficulty  by  going  around  it ; 
materialism    boldly   enters   the    labyrinth,   but   often 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  6 

becomes  lost  in  its  mazes.  Materialism,  like  spiritu- 
alism, was  originally  the  creation  of  metaphysical 
speculation,  and  contained  very  little  that  was  founded 
upon  established  fact.  As  long  as  this  was  the  case, 
as  long  as  materialism  was  but  the  product  of  abstract 
speculation  without  positive  scientific  data  upon  which 
to  rest,  it  was  nothing  more  than  a  mere  collection  of 
fanciful  hypotheses,  without  solidity  and  without  sub- 
stantial support.  In  this  respect  it  was  like  unto  its 
opponent  spiritualism,  and  only  merited  the  neglect 
it  formerly  received.  It  is  only  within  the  last  few 
decades  that  sufficient  evidence  has  been  collected,  as 
the  result  of  patient  and  laborious  investigation  into 
the  phenomena  of  nature,  to  justify  the  offering  of 
materialism  as  a  satisfactory  explanation  of  the  phe- 
nomena of  the  universe  and  to  warrant  its  acceptance. 
With  every  addition  to  our  knowledge,  with  every  fresh 
discovery  in  the  domains  of  science,  the  deeper  we  pene- 
trate into  the  mysteries  of  nature,  the  stronger  becomes 
the  doctrine  of  modern  materialism ;  until  to-day  it 
offers  the  most  acceptable  explanation  of  the  vital 
problems  with  which  science  has  to  deal.  It  is  difficult 
to  understand  how  any  one,  who  has  taken  pains  to 
thoroughly  inform  himself  on  the  great  scientific  ques- 
tions of  the  day  and  is  conversant  with  the  discoveries 
made  of  late  years  in  the  natural  sciences,  especially  in 
the  department  of  biology,  can  fail  to  find  in  material- 
ism^ the  most  satisfactory  explanation  that  has  yet  been 

^  It  is  only  fair  to  say  that  by  materialism  I  do  not  mean  any 
of  those  crude  notions  which  are  commonly  attached  to  the  term. 
By  materialism  I  mean  a  much  higher  form  of  doctrine,  which 
I  believe  to  be  the  legitimate  expression  of  the  scientific  thought 

1^ 


g  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

offered  of  vital  phenomena.  It  is  true  that  what  has 
been  accomplished  is  insignificant  compared  with  what 
remains  to  be  done,  but  with  every  step  forward  the 
way  becomes  clearer  and  the  path  surer.  In  these 
pages  we  shall  be  interested  only  with  that  aspect  of 
materialism  which  deals  with  the  relation  between  mind 
and  body ;  an  old  question,  but  one  which  so  far  from 
becoming  hackneyed  with  time,  receives  increasing 
interest  from  every  additional  discovery  made  in  the 
physiology  of  the  nervous  system.  We  are  to-day,  for 
the  first  time,  just  beginning  to  be  in  a  position  to  in- 
vestigate the  problem  which  nervous  physiology  alone 
has  properly  opened  to  us  and  which  before  has  re- 
mained as  a  sealed  book.  All  metaphysical  specula- 
tion, not  founded  on  physiological  data,  as  to  its  con- 
tents must  be  looked  upon  as  a  series  of  more  or  less 
shrewd  guesses,  and  even  with  our  present  knowledge 
of  the  functions  of  the  nervous  system,  we  cannot  con- 
sider that  we  have  more  than  arrived  at  the  threshold 
of  the  inquiry.  The  time  has  not  yet  arrived  when  we 
can  hope  to  thoroughly  understand  the  relations  of  the 
mental  to  the  physical  world.  Nevertheless,  as  the 
merchant  from  time  to  time  stops  in  the  midst  of  his 
transactions  to  ''  take  account  of  stock,"  so  in  the  prog- 
ress of  science,  it  is  well  to  occasionally  pause,  and  cast 

of  the  day,  though  perhaps  it  is  necessary  to  admit  that  some  of 
the  exponents  of  this  thought  reject,  for  what  appears  to  me  in- 
sufficient reasons,  the  term  materialism.  This  may  he  because 
this  expression  has  often  been  invested  with  a  meaning,  crude 
and  unphilosophical,  with  which  this  higher  form  has  nothing 
in  common.  What  is  understood  by  materialism  will  be  ex- 
plained in  the  final  chapter,  to  which  the  reader  is  referred. 


THE   NATURE   OF  MIND.  7 

our  eyes  over  what  has  been  done,  to  sum  up  the  evi- 
dence that  has  been  accumulated^  and  see  whither  we 
are  drifting.  Accordingly,  the  writer  has  ventured  in 
these  pages  to  call  attention  to  that  explanation  of  the 
problem  which  seems  most  in  accordance  with  the 
present  condition  of  science.  The  subject  has  been  ap- 
proached entirely  from  a  materialistic  stand-point,  and 
therefore  the  spiritualist  will  probably  find  little  herein 
to  disconcert  him.  In  a  subject  so  prolific  in  litera- 
ture as  that  of  the  relation  of  mind  and  matter,  no  one 
can  hope  to  invent  a  theory  that  has  not  at  some  time 
or  other  been  previously  suggested.  At  most  one  can 
only  hope,  as  fresh  additions  are  made  to  our  knowl- 
edge, to  bring  new  and  more  potent  evidence  in  sup- 
port of  this  or  that  theory,  and  to  read  more  intelli- 
gently by  the  light  of  improved  science  problems  that 
before  have  been  involved  in  obscurity  and  veiled  in 
mysticism.  In  the  following  pages  the  WTiter  has 
simply  endeavored  to  bring  forward  evidence  in  sup- 
port of  a  theory  which  has  seemed  to  him  most  in 
accordance  with  known  facts,  and  to  explain  by  natu- 
ral means  phenomena  which  otherwise  border  on  the 
mysterious.  The  doctrines  Avhich  are  maintained  have 
seemed  to  him  to  be  the  only  logical  sequences  of 
the  generally  accepted  views  held  to-day  in  regard  to 
the  basis  of  mental  processes,  and  if  the  latter  are  ac- 
cepted the  other  should  be  also.  How  far  the  view^s 
here  advocated  are  in  harmony  with  those  of  other 
writers  will  be  noticed  later. 

If  we  look  a  little  more  closely  into  the  history  of 
philosophy,  it  will  be  found  that  it  has  always  been  a 
tendency  of  mankind   to  explain   the   unknown  by  a 


8  THE   NATURE   OF  MIND. 

resort  to  mysterious  and  supernatural  agents.  This 
has  been  true  both  of  animate  and  inanimate  nature. 
It  is  a  tendency  which  has  prevailed  in  inverse  propor- 
tion to  the  existing  knowledge  of  the  causation  of 
natural  phenomena.  The  wind^  the  thunder,  the  light- 
ning, the  properties  of  matter,  all  have  at  different 
times  been  explained  by  means  of  supernatural  or  im- 
material agents!  Mind  has  been  no  exception  to  this 
law ;  but  as  the  cloud  which  has  hung  over  our  knowl- 
edge of  biological  processes  has  remained  longer  un- 
lifted  than  in  other  departments  of  science,  the  spiritual 
influence  has  been  longer  felt,  and  mental  phenomena 
have  remained  for  a  longer  time  enshrouded  in 
mysticism. 

To-day  the  weight  of  authority  is  in  favor  of  a 
material  basis  for  all  mental  phenomena.  It  is  gen- 
erally conceded  that  mind  depends  upon  the  develop- 
ment of  a  peculiar  matter,  the  brain,  for  its  existence. 

The  brain  is  a  complex  organ  made  up  of  what  are 
called  nerve-cells  and  nerve-fibres,  the  latter  serving  as 
conductors,  like  ordinary  telegraph-wires,  for  the  cells, 
which  are  the  batteries  which  run  the  nervous  mechan- 
ism. Of  the  nerve  fibres,  some  connect  together  the 
neighboring  cells,  others  cells  situated  in  distant  parts 
of  the  brain.  Other  systems  of  fibres  connect  the 
brain  with  the  various  parts  of  the  body.  Of  these 
latter  there  are  two  kinds:  one  ingoing,  called  the 
sensory  or  centripetal  nerves,  which  convey  impres- 
sions to  the  cells  of  the  brain;  and  the  other,  out- 
going, called  motor,  or  centrifugal,  which  convey  ex- 
citations from  the  cells  of  the  brain  to  the  muscles, 
viscera,  and  other  parts.      This,  in  a  rough  way,  is 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  9 

the  anatomical  mechanism  of  the  nervous  system. 
The  more  minute  structure  with  still  other  systems 
of  nerves  it  is  not  necessary  for  our  purpose  to  con- 
sider. We  have  here  what  is  called  a  nervous  loop. 
An  impression  is  conveyed  from  the  skin^  for  ex- 
ample, by  way  of  the  ingoing  nerves  to  the  brain. 
Here  an  agitation^  is  set  up  among  the  molecules 
of  the  cells.  -This  agitation  is  conveyed  from  cell 
to  cell,  a  greater  or  less  number  being  implicated  as 
the  case  may  be ;  and  finally  this  molecular  motion 
is  retransmitted  as  a  nervous  current  along  the  out- 
going nerves  to  the  muscles  to  end  in  muscular  action. 
Now  the  important  point  is  this :  at  the  moment 
w^hen  the  ingoing  current  reaches  the  cerebral  mole- 
cules, a  feeling  of  some  sort  arises  in  the  individual, 
and  continues  as  long  as  these  molecules  continue  in 
agitation,  and  ceases  when  the  molecular  motion  ceases. 
Whenever  the  molecules  of  the  brain  are  set  into  ac- 
tivity, a  sensation  or  thought  of  some  kind  occurs; 
and,  vice  versa,  whenever  a  thought  or  sensation  arises^ 
a  corresponding  molecular  agitation  occurs.  Let  us 
take  a  concrete  example.  A  man  is  sitting  in  his 
library  quietly  reading.  The  rays  of  light  from  his 
book  fall  upon  his  retina  and  excite  the  terminal  fila- 
ments of  the  optic  nerve;  from  here  the  impression  is 
carried  as  a  neural  current  to  the  brain,  and  excites  the 
molecules  of  the  cells.  Along  with  this  excitement  of 
the  cerebral  molecules  there  arises  the  image  called  the 
book,  and  all  the  various  thoughts  corresponding  to  the 
printed  words  of  the  page.     These  thoughts  are  said 

^  Often  called  undulations,  tremors,  vibrations,  etc. 


10  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

to  occur  side  by  side  with  the  molecular  agitation. 
Suddenly  the  cry  of  "  fire'^  is  raised.  The  man  throws 
down  his  book,  jumps  from  his  chair,  and  runs  down 
stairs  in  answer  to  the  alarm.  Now  what  has  occurred 
in  his  nervous  apparatus  ?  The  pulsations  of  the  at- 
mosphere corresponding  to  the  sound  ''  fire'^  have  struck 
upon  his  auditory  apparatus ;  from  there  they  have 
been  conveyed  as  a  neural  undulation  or  current  along 
the  auditory  nerve  to  his  brain  and  there  aroused  a  new 
set  of  molecular  motions ;  and  with  them  a  new  set  of 
thoughts  has  arisen,  embracing  perhaps  a  mental  picture 
of  the  house  in  flames  and  of  danger  to  the  inmates. 
But  not  stopping  here,  the  cerebral  motion  has  been 
transmitted  along  the  outgoing  nerves  to  the  muscles, 
and  resulted  in  the  actions  just  described ;  we  have 
here,  from  a  physical  point  of  view,  what  is  called  a 
nervous  circuit.  On  the  one  hand  we  have  a  series  of 
molecular  motions  beginning  with  irritations  of  sen- 
sory nerves,  and  passing  as  cerebral  motions  through 
the  brain,  ending  in  muscular  action ;  and  on  the  other 
hand  we  have  states  of  consciousness  correlated  with 
a  portion  of  that  circuit,  the  cerebral  portion.  In  this 
or  in  some  modified  form  of  this  consists  all  nervous 
and  mental  action.  On  this  fact  is  based  the  doctrine 
of  the  physical  basis  of  mind,  which  recognizes  the 
association  and  interdependence  of  molecular  motions 
and  consciousness.  Underneath,  then,  every  mental  act 
there  flows  a  physical  current.  With  every  thought, 
sensation,  or  emotion  is  associated  a  physical  change  in 
a  material  substance, — the  brain.  No  mental  act  can 
take  place  without  a  corresponding  physical  change; 
no  physical  change  without  a  corresponding  mental 


THE  NATURE  OF  MIND,  H 

act.  Such  is  the  usually  accepted  doctrine  of  the 
present  day. 

According  to  this  view  we  have  two  sets  of  phe- 
nomena, two  classes  of  facts,  a  mental  act  and  a  physi- 
cal change,  invariably  associated  together.  But  this  is 
very  far  from  explaining  the  nature  of  mental  processes. 
The  further  question  is  here  presented  to  us,  What  is 
the  nature  of  this  association  ?  Is  it  to  be  looked  upon, 
as  many  think,  as  a  mere  coexistenoe  of  dissimilar  phe- 
nomena, rather  than  as  one  in  which  any  dependency 
of  the  one  upon  the  other  can  be  traced  ?  And  are  we 
here  to  place  a  limit  to  our  inquiries,  and  consider  that 
the  problem  has  been  reduced  to  its  lowest  terms  ?  If 
we  are  content  to  do  so,  very  little  progress  can  be  said 
to  have  been  made  towards  understanding  the  relation- 
ship between  mind  and  matter.  Unless  some  causal 
or  interdependent  relation  between  the  two  can  be 
established,  we  shall  be  very  little  better  off  than  we 
were  before  physiological  science  undertook  to  solve 
the  problem. 

But,  in  truth,  physiological  science  does  pretend  to 
go  further,  though  a  careful  study  of  the  teachings  of 
the  exponents  of  the  modern  school  will  reveal  two 
different  interpretations  of  the  facts,  however  unani- 
mous they  may  appear  at  first  sight.  These  two  inter- 
pretations may  be  termed  the  Theory  of  Functions  and 
the  Theory  of  Aspects.  Both  theories  I  hope  to  be 
able  to  show  are  neither  a  sufficient  nor  correct  expla- 
nation of  the  facts. 

The  basis  of  both  doctrines  is  a  physical  substance 
underlying  both  series  of  facts, — the  physical  disturb- 
ances, and  consciousness, — but  the  relation  which  the 


12  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

two  series  bear  to  this  substance  differs  in  the  two 
theories.     First^  as  to  the  Theory  of  Functions. 

After  a  careful  study  of  the  reasoning  by  which  this 
conclusion  has  been  reached,  as  well  as  of  the  general 
nreaning  which  seems  to  underlie  the  writings  of  the 
principal  authorities  on  the  subject,  I  am  convinced 
that  there  is  only  one  intelligible  meaning  with  which 
this  doctrine  can  be  invested,  and  that  is  this :  there  is 
one  underlying  matter  or  substance  ;  this  substance  has 
two  properties, — one  of  these  properties  is  known  as 
those  disturbances  w^e  call  nerve-motions,  the  other  is 
consciousness ;  that  is,  our  ideas,  sensations,  and  emo- 
tions. When  nerve-motions,  the  one  "property'^  of 
this  matter,  is  present,  consciousness,  the  other  '^  prop- 
erty,^' appears  simultaneously.  Both  come  and  both 
go  side  by  side  together;  but  why  when  one  appears 
the  other  should  do  so  also  we  do  not  know.  They 
may  be  likened  to  the  following  ideal  case.  Let  us  in- 
vest a  piece  of  iron  with  the  properties  of  magnetism 
and  heat  under  ideal  conditions.  Let  us  suppose 
(which  is  not  the  case)  that  whenever  the  temperature 
of  the  iron  is  raised  above  that  of  the  surrounding  air 
it  becomes  magnetized,  and,  conversely,  whenever  it 
becomes  magnetized  the  temperature  becomes  raised. 
In  this  case  the  magnetism  could  be  said  to  correspond 
with  consciousness  and  heat  with  nerve-motions. 

This  simile  must  not  be  pushed  farther  than  is  in- 
tended. In  this  case  of  the  iron  the  heat  will  probably 
be  inferred  to  be  the  cause  of  the  magnetism,  and  vice 
versa.  But  this  has  scarcely  been  asserted  to  be  the 
case  with  mind  and  the  accompanying  neural  undula- 
tions.    The  analogy  is  applicable  only  so  far  as  con- 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  ]3 

cerns  the  parallelism  of  the  phenomena.  Conscious- 
ness and  nerve-motions  are  said  only  to  run  in  parallel 
circuits.  When  one  is  present,  the  other  is  also  pres- 
ent. They  resemble  two  clocks,  which,  wound  up  at 
the  same  moment,  record  the  time  and  strike  the  hours 
in  perfect  harmony.  '^  We  can  trace,'^  says  Tyndall, 
'^  the  development  of  a  nervous  system,  and  correlate 
with  it  the  parallel  phenomena  of  sensation  and  thought. 
We  see  with  undoubting  certainty  that  they  go  hand 
in  hand.  But  we  try  to  soar  in  a  vacuum  the  moment 
we  seek  to  comprehend  the  connection  between  them/^^ 
and  yet  '^  though t,^^  says  Huxley,  "  is  as  much  a  function 
of  matter  as  motion  is.^^  ^ 

Although  the  theory  has  not  often,  if  at  all,  been 
stated  as  distinctly  or  boldly  as  has  just  been  done,  still 
I  think  I  am  justified  in  this  interpretation  of  it.  This 
is  the  general  idea  underlying  this  form  of  the  mate- 
rialistic doctrine,  and  is  the  only  meaning  which  can 
be  deduced  from  the  writings  of  such  men  as  have  ac- 
cepted it,  although  it  may  be  suspected  that  the  very 
vagueness  with  which  it  is  often  stated  is  not  indicative 
of  a  clear  conception  of  the  defined  conditions.  Fur- 
thermore, this  interpretation  is  the  only  one  which  is 
logically  compatible  vnth  the  deductions  which  have  been 
drawn  from  the  doctrine  itself.  This  I  hope  to  be  able 
to  show  later.  Till  then  I  shall  have  to  ask  the  reader 
to  provisionally  accept  it.  According  to  this  doctrine 
we  may  be  said  to  have  to  do  with  a  unity  of  sub- 
stance and  a  duality  of  properties. 

The  Theory  of  Aspects  differs  considerably  from  this, 

*  Belfast  Address,  p.  62.  2  Qn  Descartes. 


14  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

though  the  two  are  sometimes  confused  and  regarded 
as  identical.  There  is  certainly  often  lacking  that  pre- 
cision of  language  which  is  essential  to  a  clear  under- 
standing of  the  problem. 

According  to  the  Theory  of  Aspects^  consciousness 
and  nerve  motions  (vibrations)  are  only  different  aspects 
of  one  and  the  same  underlying  substance,  which  is 
unknown.  This  view  has  perhaps  been  as  clearly  ex- 
pressed by  Bain,  as  by  any  one  else,  when  he  says,  "  the 
one  substance  with  two  sets  of  properties,  two  sides  (the 
physical  and  the  mental),  a  double-faced  unity,  would 
seem  to  comply  with  all  the  exigencies  of  the  case.^^  ^ 

The  same  notion  has  thus  been  described  by  Lewes : 
''  There  may  be  every  ground  for  concluding  that  a 
logical  process  has  its  correlative  physical  process,  and 
that  the  two  processes  are  merely  two  aspects  of  one 
event."  ^  And  again  :  ^'  The  two  processes  are  equiva- 
lent, and  the  difference  arises  from  the  difference  in  the 
mode  of  apprehension."  ^ 

The  inadequacy  of  these  theories  of  Functions  and 
Aspects  to  explain  much  of  the  diflSculty  is  admitted 
by  most  writers  almost  in  the  same  breath  in  which 
they  advanced  them.  That  which  has  received  the 
most  general  acceptance  is  the  Theory  of  Aspects,  but 
as  an  explanation  it  is  incomplete.  To  say  that  con- 
sciousness is  the  subjective  aspect  of  matter  is  equiva- 
lent to  saying  that  consciousness  is  the  conscious  side 
of  matter,  which  is  no  explanation.  It  is  simply 
stating  over  again  in  different  terms  the  fact  we  wish 


1  Mind  and  Body,  p.  196. 

«  Physical  Basis  of  Mind,  p.  395.  ^  ibj^. 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  15 

to  explain ;  and  similarly^  to  say  that  nerve-motion  is 
the  objective  aspect  of  the  same  matter  is  simply  to  say 
that  nerve- motions  are  objective  phenomena,  which  is 
what  we  knew  before.  These  are  only  restatements  of 
the  facts,  not  explanations  of  them.  Nor  does  it  help 
matters  to  say  that  the  same  matter  underlies  both,  or 
the  difference  between  them  is  due  to  different  modes 
of  apprehending  the  same  thing.  I  shall  have  more 
to  say  on  this  point  in  chapter  iv.,  to  which  the  reader 
is  referred.  What  we  wish  to  know  is  this :  Sow  do 
we  come  to  have  two  aspects  instead  of  one  f  Why,  when 
we  have  one  aspect,  should  we  also  have  at  the  same 
time  the  other?  How  is  the  one  set  of  changes,  the 
physical,  related  to  the  other  set,  the  mental  ?  What 
is  that  connection  between  them  that  insures  the  pres- 
ence of  a  feeling  when  physical  disturbances  are  pro- 
duced, or  when  a  feeling  is  present,  induces  physical 
disturbances?  What  difference  is  there  between  the 
essential  nature  of  an  objective  fact,  like  a  neural 
tremor,  and  a  subjective  state  or  feeling,  and  have  they 
anything  in  common  f  These  are  important  questions 
which  call  for  answers,  and  any  doctrine  which  fails  to 
explain  them  falls  far  short  of  the  requirements  of  the 
case.  But  these  questions,  there  need  be  no  hesitation 
in  saying,  neither  the  theory  of  functions  nor  aspects 
explains.  On  the  contrary,  the  former  has  led  to  de- 
ductions which,  though  logically  drawn  from  the  prem- 
ises, are  inconsistent  with  the  facts  established  by  each 
one's  own  consciousness.  Consequently  the  premises 
must  be  false.  The  deductions  I  refer  to  I  propose  to 
consider  in  a  later  chapter,  and  therefore  that  discussion 
will  not  be  anticipated  here,  farther  than  to  say  that, 


16  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

accepting  this  explanatiODj  it  has  been  held  by  some, 
that  states  of  consciousness  are  merely  by-products^  and 
in  nowise  essential  to  the  working  of  the  body ;  or,  in 
other  words^  that  our  feelings  have  no  causative  influ- 
ence in  the  production  of  our  actions.  So  that  when  I 
eat  because  (as  I  suppose)  I  am  hungry,  or  work  out 
an  intricate  mathematical  problem,  or  strike  some  one 
who  made  me  angry,  I  am  not  prompted  to  these  acts, 
and  do  not  carry  them  into  execution  under  the  direc- 
tion of  my  thoughts  and  feelings,  but  these  acts  are 
done  by  the  mechanism  of  the  brain,  and  the  chemical 
and  physical  changes  which  work  the  mechanism  are 
simply  accompanied  by  my  feelings  and  thoughts,  but 
not  influenced  in  any  way  by  them.  Our  feelings  be- 
come simply  indicators,  like  those  of  a  steam-engine, 
which  tell  the  number  of  revolutions,  and  height  of 
pressure,  without  in  any  way  affecting  the  revolutions 
themselves. 

Such  a  conclusion  is  sufficient  to  reduce  the  whole 
theory  to  an  absurdity. 

The  inadequacy  of  the  above  explanations,  however 
simple  and  satisfactory  they  may  appear  at  first  sight, 
is  recognized  on  all  sides,  and  is  the  same  whether  it  be 
approached  on  the  physical  or  on  the  subjective  side. 
They  simply  avoid  the  difficulty,  they  do  not  remove  it. 
This  difficulty  is,  as  I  have  said,  in  explaining  how  we 
come  to  have  two  aspects,  and  how  these  two  ^^  aspects'^ 
are  related;  how  physical  changes  become  translated 
into  the  subjective  feeling.  That  the  two  are  correlated 
in  time,  that  is,  that  the  two  occur  simultaneously,  side 
by  side,  is  plain  enough  and  easily  understood,  but  it  is 
confessedly  not  so  easy  to  understand  how  the  one  be- 


THE   NATURE   OF  MIND.  17 

comes  ^'  transformed^^  (?)  into  the  other ;  how,  in  fact,  a 
feeling  insures  the  presence  of  a  physical  motion,  and 
a  physical  motion,  of  a  feeling.  Thus  Mr.  Spencer, 
who,  as  a  psychologist,  has  treated  the  matter  in  a 
masterly  manner,  maintains  this  view  of  different  as- 
pects. "  For  what,^^  he  says,  '^  is  objectively  a  change 
in  a  superior  nerve-centre  is  subjectively  a  feeling,  and 
the  duration  under  the  one  aspect  measures  the  duration 
of  it  under  the  other.^^  ^  And  the  same  thing  is  re- 
peated in  other  passages.  But  this  is  no  explanation, 
as  Mr.  Spencer  himself  tacitly  recognizes  when  he  later 
adds,  '^  though  accumulated  observations  and  experi- 
ments have  led  us  by  a  very  indirect  series  of  infer- 
ences to  the  belief  that  mind  and  nervous  action  are 
the  subjective  and  objective  faces  of  the  same  thing, 
we  remain  utterly  incapable  of  seeing  and  even  of  imagin- 
ing how  the  two  are  related.  Mind  still  continues  to  us 
a  something  without  any  kinship  to  other  things;  and 
from  the  science  which  discovers  by  introspection  the 
laws  of  this  something,  there  is  no  passage  by  trans- 
itional steps  to  the  sciences  which  discover  the  laws  of 
these  other  things.^^^  Here  is  a  mystery  which  he 
recognizes  in  common  even  with  his  spiritualistic 
opponents. 

Professor  Tyndall,  as  a  physicist  and  avowed  ma- 
terialist, as  one  who  finds  in  the  properties  of  matter 
alone  suflScient  to  account  for  everything  in  the  uni- 
verse, both  for  the  objective  phenomena  about  us,  and 
for  the  subjective  world  of  consciousness  within,  "  bows 


^  Principles  of  Psychology,  2d  ed.,  ii.  p.  107. 
2  Ibid.,  p.  140.     The  italics  not  in  original. 
5  2^ 


18  THE   NATURE   OF  MIND. 

his  bead  in  the  dust  before  that  mystery  of  the  mind, 
which  has  hitherto  defied  its  own  penetrative  power, 
and  which  may  ultimately  resolve  itself  into  a  demon- 
strable impossibility  of  self-penetration/'  ^  While  Pro- 
fessor Tyndall  finds  in  matter  alone  sufficient  to  account 
for  the  existence  of  mind,  he  still  recognizes  the  diffi- 
culty whereof  we  speak.  "The  passage/^  he  says, 
''  from  the  physics  of  the  brain  to  the  corresponding 
facts  of  consciousness  is  unthinkable.  Granted  that  a 
definite  thought,  and  a  definite  molecular  action  of  the 
brain,  occur  simultaneously  :  we  do  not  possess  the  in- 
tellectual organ,  nor  apparently  any  rudiment  of  the 
organs  which  w^ould  enable  us  to  pass,  by  a  process  of 
reasoning,  from  one  to  the  other.  They  appear  to- 
gether, but  we  do  not  know  why.  Were  our  minds 
and  senses  so  expanded,  strengthened,  and  illuminated 
as  to  enable  us  to  see  and  feel  the  very  molecules  of  the 
brain  ;  were  we  capable  of  following  all  their  motions, 
all  their  groupings,  all  their  electric  discharges,  if  such 
there  be ;  and  were  we  intimately  acquainted  with  the 
corresponding  states  of  thought  and  feeling,  we  should 
be  as  far  as  ever  from  the  solution  of  the  problem : 
How^  are  these  physical  processes  connected  with  the 
facts  of  consciousness?  The  chasm  between  the  two 
classes  of  phenomena  would  still  remain  intellectually 
impassable.''^  "  We  may  think  over  the  subject  again 
and  again  ;  it  eludes  all  intellectual  presentation;  we 
stand  at  length  face  to  face  with  the  incomprehensible.''  ^ 
It  mav  be  seen  how  insufficient  is  the  boasted  nlodern 

1  Apology  for  the  Belfast  Address. 

2  Scientific  Materialism  in  Fragments  of  Science,  p.  420. 
8  Apology  for  the  Belfast  Address.     Same,  p.  560. 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  19 

scientific  doctrine  as  explained  by  Spencer  and  others, 
even  to  those  who  maintain  it,  by  turning  to  the  works 
of  Mr.  Fiske,  a  disciple  and  enthusiastic  admirer  of 
Mr.  Spencer.  '^  Henceforth/'  he  says,  ''  we  may  regard 
materialism  as  ruled  out,  and  relegated  to  that  limbo 
of  crudities  to  which  we  some  time  since  consigned  the 
hypothesis  of  special  creations.  The  latest  results  of 
scientific  inquiry,  whether  in  the  region  of  objective 
psychology  or  in  that  of  molecular  physics,  leave  the 
gulf  between  mind  and  matter  quite  as  wide  as  it  was 
judged  to  be  in  the  time  of  Descartes.  It  still  remains 
as  true  as  then,  that  between  that  of  w^hich  the  differ- 
ential attribute  is  thought  and  that  of  which  the  differ- 
ential attribute  is  extension,  there  can  be  nothing  like 
identity  or  similarity.  Although  we  have  come  to  see 
that  between  the  manifestations  of  the  two  there  is 
such  an  unfailing  parallelism  that  the  one  group  of 
phenomena  can  be  correctly  described  by  formulas 
originally  invented  for  describing  the  other  group,  yet 
all  that  has  been  established  is  this  parallelism.''  ^ 

Many  other  writers,  physiologists  and  psychologists 
alike,  might  be  quoted  to  the  same  effect,  but  it  is 
hardly  necessary. 

It  is  naturally  vv^ith  considerable  hesitation  that  one 
attempts  to  explain  that  which  such  thoughtful  minds 
declare  to  be  inexplicable,  and  yet  it  may  fairly  be 
questioned  whether,  after  all,  this  ''  mystery"  is  not  a 
dust  of  their  own  raising.  It  may  be  asked  whether 
each,  the  physiologist  and  psychologist,  has  not  ap- 
proached the  subject  too  much  from  his  own  point  of 

1  Cosmic  Philosophy,  vol.  ii.  p.  445. 


20  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

view  to  the  exclusion  of  that  of  the  other;  whether 
the  physiologist  has  not  paid  too  strict  attention  to  the 
physical  phenomena  to  the  neglect  of  facts  of  con- 
sciousness, while  the  psychologist  has  kept  too  steadily 
in  mind  the  data  of  consciousness  and  left  out  of  sight 
the  physical  side.  I  would  not  be  understood  to  insin- 
uate that  either  took  no  account  of  one  or  the  other 
side.  This  would  be  merely  presumptuous  misstate- 
ment. On  the  contrary,  both  recognize  one  material 
basis  for  both  classes  of  facts ;  both  recognize  that  the 
presence  of  consciousness  cannot  be  disassociated  from 
the  physical  changes  w^hich  are  supposed  to  accompany 
it,  and  that  we  cannot  have  one  without  the  other. 
But  after  recognizing  this,  and  indeed  emphasizing  it 
and  insisting  upon  it,  they  straightway  take  leave  of 
one  another,  and  travel  in  different  directions. 

When  discussing  such  a  subtle  subject  as  the  nature 
of  the  relation  between  mind  and  matter,  it  is  necessary 
to  keep  constantly  before  one  both  the  facts  which  terms 
represent  and  the  ultimate  analysis  of  those  facts,  and 
to  bear  the  whole  of  this  ultimate  analysis  constantly 
in  mind.  For  example,  when  we  speak  of  a  material 
object  we  must  constantly  keep  before  us  what  we 
really  mean  by  this  object;  we  must  have  before  us  the 
notion  of  a  number  of  sensations  or  states  of  our  own 
mind,  such  as  extension,  color,  hardness,  etc.,  which  are 
commonly,  though  of  course  erroneously,  located  in  the 
object  itself;  then  the  notion  of  the  supposed  some- 
thing existing  outside  of  us,  and  which  is  the  cause  of 
those  sensations ;  and,  lastly,  the  inferred  reaction  be- 
tween the  two,  by  which  the  latter  excite  in  us  the 
sensations  we  call  properties  of  the  object.     Unless  the 


THE   NATURE   OF  MIND,  21 

wliole  of  this  is  constantly  remembered  we  are  liable  to 
be  drawn  into  fallacies,  for  it  is  only  in  this  way  that 
in  any  given  set  of  phenomena  that  which  is  subjective 
can  be  picked  out  and  separated  from  that  which  is 
objective.  In  the  simplest  example  of  the  objective 
world,  as  of  a  table  or  book,  that  which  is  subjective, 
and  the  creation  of  the  mind  is  so  interwoven  with  that 
which  is  objective,  and  which  really  exists  outside  of 
us,  that  only  those  learned  in  such  matters  can  distin- 
guish between  them.  Nine  persons  out  of  ten,  if  told 
that  those  physical  characteristics  which  distinguish 
one  picture  from  another — the  beauty  of  the  coloring, 
the  grace  of  the  drawing,  and  the  ^*  tone'^ — do  not 
reaHy  belong  to  it,  but  exist  as  such  only  in  the  mind 
of  the  observer,  would  indignantly  repel  your  insinua- 
tions, and  if  you  still  insisted  upon  it  as  a  philosophical 
truth,  you  would  be  set  down  as  a  ^^crank'^  for  your 
superior  knowledge.  Even  the  most  acute  thinkers, 
those  most  conversant  with  these  truths,  will  sometimes 
fall  into  the  pitfall  of  objectivity.  Alexander  Bain, 
for  example,  in  chapter  vi.  on  the  Union  of  Mind  and 
Body,  remarks, — 

^'  Walking  in  the  country  in  spring,  our  mind  is  oc- 
cupied with  the  foliage,  the  bloom,  and  the  grassy 
meads, — all  purely  objective  things;  we  are  suddenly 
and  strongly  arrested  by  the  odor  of  the  May  blossom  ; 
we  give  way  for  a  moment  to  the  sensation  of  sweet- 
ness:  for  that  moment  the  ohjedive  regards  cease;  we 
think  of  nothing  extended ;  we  are  in  a  state  where 
extension  has  no  footing;  there  is  to  us  place  no 
longer.'^  ^ 

^  Loc.  cit.,  p.  135.     Italics  not  in  original. 


22  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

Now  why  is  the  sense  of  smell  any  less  objective  than 
the  sense  of  sight?  When  we  smell  anything,  how 
does  the  subjective  element  enter  into  it  any  more  than 
it  does  in  our  mental  condition  when  we  see  anything? 
The  odor  called  sweetness  is  as  much  objective  as  those 
sensations  of  sight  which  he  calls  ^Hhe  foliage,  the 
bloom,  and  the  grassy  meads/'  Sweetness  is  not  ex- 
tended to  be  sure,  but  that  is  simply  because  smell  is 
not  sight  or  touch.  Sweetness  is  a  sensation  which 
we  commonly  ascribe  to  objects,  such  as  a  rose  or  an 
orange,  and  we  say  that  it  belongs  to  them  as  a  prop- 
erty, and  hence  is  objective.-^  Further,  though  sweet- 
ness is  not  extended,  that  which  causes  the  sensation 
of  sweetness  is  capable  of  being  presented  to  us  through 
the  sense  of  vision,  ideally  or  actually,  and  then  becomes 
extended. 

Perhaps  the  principal  reason  for  the  great  hostility 
which  the  materialistic  doctrine  has  evoked  on  all  sides 
is  to  be  found,  as  has  been  hinted  above,  in  the  deduc- 
tions  which  some  writers  have  seen  fit  to  draw  from  it. 
Because  mind  is  only  a  "  manifestation  of  matter'^  it 
has  been  maintained  in  some  quarters  that  conscious- 
ness plays  an  unessential  part  in  our  cerebral  processes, 

^  It  may  be  urged  in  objection  tbat  the  pleasurable  emotion 
accompanying  the  odor,  being  entirely  a  subjective  state,  elimi- 
nates the  objective  element  from  the  whole.  But  this  would  be 
equally  true  of  the  sensations  of  sight,  such  as  "the  foliage, 
the  bloom,"  etc.  There  is  more  of  a  subjective  element  about 
sight  than  smell,  for  a  visual  perception  of  an  object  is  a  com- 
pound sensation,  made  up  of  color,  absence  or  presence  of  light, 
size  and  shape  (extension),  and  the  combining  of  these  into  an 
idea  of  the  object  is  a  process  of  judgment, — an  entirely  subjec- 
tive state. 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND,  23 

and  has  nothing  to  do  with  determining  our  actions. 
No  less  an  authority  than  Professor  Huxley  has  ex- 
pressed the  opinion  that  the ''  consciousness  of  brutes  [and 
men]  would  appear  to  be  related  to  the  mechanism  of 
the  body  simply  as  a  collateral  product  of  its  working, 
and  to  be  as  completely  without  the  power  of  modify- 
ing that  working  as  the  steam-whistle,  which  accom- 
panies the  work  of  a  locomotive-engine,  is  without 
influence  upon  its  machinery.'^  The  lecture  in  \vhich 
he  gave  expression  to  this  view  exposed  him,  in  conse- 
quence, to  a  storm  of  vituperation  and  abuse,  which 
might  have  overwhelmed  a  less  fearless  and  able  man 
than  Professor  Huxley.  That  this  conclusion  should 
not  be  accepted  is  proper,  because  it  is  not  in  accord- 
ance with  the  facts,  aud  therefore  either  the  premises 
or  the  reasoning  by  which  it  was  reached  must  be  false. 
In  this  case  I  conceive  it  to  be  the  premises.  I  shall 
refer  to  this  point  in  a  later  chapter  and  in  another 
connection.  But,  on  the  other  hand,  it  must  be  ad- 
mitted that  these  views  are  the  logical  deductions  of 
that  doctrine  which  represents  matter  and  mind  to  be 
double  but  parallel  properties  of  matter.  In  this  con- 
text it  will  be  interesting  to  notice  how  the  same  idea 
of  double  properties  impregnates  the  thought  of  another 
vigorous  thinker,  Mr.  Tyndall.  He  recognizes  two 
difficulties,  two  alternativeSj  neither  of  which  can  he 
accept.  He  consequently  ''  bows  his  head'^  in  his  ac- 
knowledged ignorance  before  ^^  two  incomprehensibles." 
The  error  is  the  same ;  it  lies  partly  in  his  premises, 
and  partly  in  not  keeping  in  mind  what  is  subjective 
and  what  is  objective  in  the  notion  of  motion.  He 
says,— 


24  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND, 

'^  The  discussion  above  referred  to  turns  on  the 
question,  Do  states  of  consciousness  enter  as  links  into 
the  chain  of  antecedence  and  sequence,  which  give  rise 
to  bodily  action  and  to  other  states  of  consciousness,  or 
are  they  merely  by-products,  which  are  not  essential  to 
the  physical  processes  going  on  in  the  brain  ?  Speak- 
ing for  myself,  it  is  certain  that  I  have  no  power  of 
imagining  states  of  consciousness  interposed  between 
the  molecules  of  the  brain,  and  influencing  the  trans- 
ference of  motion  among  the  molecules.  The  thought 
^eludes  all  mental  presentation,^  and  hence  the  logic 
seems  of  iron  strength,  which  claims  for  the  brain  an 
automatic  action  uninfluenced  by  states  of  conscious- 
ness. But  it  is,  I  believe,  admitted  by  those  who  hold 
the  automatic  theory  that  states  of  consciousness  are 
produced  by  the  marshalling  of  the  molecules  of  the 
brain;  and  this  production  of  consciousness  by  molec- 
ular motion  is  to  me  quite  as  unthinkable  as  the  pro- 
duction of  molecular  motion  by  consciousness.  If, 
therefore,  unthinkability  be  the  proper  test,  I  must 
equally  reject  both  classes  of  phenomena.  I,  how- 
ever, reject  neither,  and  thus  stand  in  the  presence  of 
two  incomprehensibles  instead  of  one  incomprehen- 
sible.^^ ^ 

The  difficulty  lies  here:  if  physical  changes  and 
consciousness  are  double  and  parallel  properties,  then, 
as  the  former  is  known  to  enter  as  a  link  in  the  dy- 
namic circuit,  the  latter  cannot,  and  must,  therefore,  be 
a  by-product,  without  influence  over  our  bodily  actions. 
On  the  other  hand,  the  conscious  property  cannot  be 

^  Apology  for  the  Belfast  Address. 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  25 

thought  of  as  entering  into  the  dynamic  circuit,  be- 
cause of  the  error  above  insisted  upon  of  confusing  the 
subjective  side  of  the  notion  of  molecules  with  the  real 
objective  or  unknown  side,  the  molecules-in-them- 
selves.    This  fallacy  pervades  the  whole  passage. 

Even  Bain  has  this  idea  of  a  double  property. 
"The  only  tenable  supposition  is  that  mental  and 
physical  proceed  together  as  undivided  terms/^  (This 
is  not  an  explanation ;  it  is  only  a  restatement  of  the 
association  of  mental  and  physical  states.)  "  When, 
therefore,  we  speak  of  a  mental  cause,  a  mental  agency, 
w^e  have  always  a  two- sided  cause;  the  effect  produced  is 
not  the  effect  of  mind  alone,  but  of  mind  in  company 
with  body.  That  mind  should  have  operated  on  the 
body  is  as  much  as  to  say  that  a  two-sided  phenom- 
enon, one  side  being  bodily,  can  influence  the  body;  it 
is,  after  all,  body  acting  upon  body.  When  a  shock  of 
fear  paralyzes  digestion,  it  is  not  the  emotion  of  fear  in 
the  abstract  or  as  a  pure  mental  existence  that  does  the 
harm;  it  is  the  emotion  in  company  with  a  peculiarly  ex- 
cited condition  of  the  nervous  system;  and  it  is  this  con- 
dition of  the  brain  tuhich  deranges  the  stomach,^'  ^ 

Now,  on  the  contrary,  we  are  entitled  to  believe  that 
our  mind  does  not  deceive  us  in  this  respect,  and  that 
it  is  the  sensation  of  fear  which  deranges  the  stomach. 
How  it  does  it  is  another  question,  but  that  it  does  it  is 
beyond  dispute.  When,  at  the  thought  of  something 
disagreeable,  we  feel  nausea  and  the  stomach  "  rebels,^^ 
I  believe  we  are  entitled  to  maintain  that  the  disagree- 
able thought  is  the  cause  both  of  the  nausea  and  the 

1  Mind  and  Body,  p.  131.     Italics  not  in  original. 
B  3 


26  THE   NATURE   OF  MIND. 

spasm  of  the  stomach.  When,  at  the  thought  of  a 
delicious  morsel,  our  ^^  mouth  waters/^  it  is  the  thought 
itself,  par  excellence,  which  causes  the  flow  of  saliva. 
But  how  is  the  problem  requiring  solution.  I  do  not 
think  any  one  can  read  Mr.  Bain's  work  without  be- 
lieving that  his  treatment  of  this  part  of  the  subject  is 
vague  and  unsatisfactory. 

One  thing  must  be  admitted  as  a  logical  conse- 
quence of  this  doctrine.  If  consciousness  and  neural 
processes  are  only  collateral  parallel  phenomena,  the 
former  must  be  excluded  from  all  part  in  that  working 
of  the  body  in  which  the  latter  enter  as  links  in  the 
circuit  of  neural  undulations. 

The  difficulty  is  we  have  been  looking  too  much 
through  prismatic  spectacles,  and  have  seen  one  line  as 
two. 

Sufficient  has  been  said  to  show  not  only  how  inade- 
quate is  the  commonly  accepted  modern  doctrine  to 
explain  the  relation  between  mind  and  matter,  but  that 
this  very  doctrine,  when  carried  to  its  logical  conse- 
quences, leads  to  the  denial  of  the  truth  of  that  convic- 
tion possessed  by  each  one  of  us,  that  our  feelings  have 
something  to  do  with  the  production  of  our  actions. 
They  become  merely  collateral  products  of  the  work- 
ings of  the  body. 

But  there  is  one  writer  to  whom  I  wish  to  call  atten- 
tion, who  for  clearness  of  thought,  precision  of  expres- 
sion, and  for  correct  use  of  terms  has  rarely  been 
equalled  by  any  writer  on  this  subject.  I  refer  to  the 
late  George  H.  Lewes,  whose  work  on  the  Physical 
Basis  of  Mind  has  not  received,  at  least  in  this  country, 
the  attention  it  merits.     I  know  of  no  one  who  has  so 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  27 

correctly  appreciated  the  nature  of  the  problem  to  be 
solved.  To  Mr.  Lewes  belongs  the  credit  of  being  the 
first  to  offer  an  explanation  of  many  of  the  difficulties 
of  the  problem ;  an  explanation  which  in  some  re- 
spects must  be  accepted  as  final.  And  yet  his  conclu- 
sions I  cannot  accept,  believing  them  not  to  be  the  logical 
outcome  of  his  arguments.  He  maintains  ih^  view  of 
difference  in  '^  aspects^'  which  has  already  been  referred 
to.  This,  I  hope  to  show,  is  not  a  logical  or  adequate 
explanation.  I  cannot  at  this  time  refer  more  particu- 
larly to  his  argument/ as  it  would  be  anticipating  what 
will  necessarily  follow.^ 

In  the  next  chapter  we  shall  consider  the  nature  of 
the  problem  to  be  solved  and  the  difficulties  surround- 
ing it. 

1  I  regret  that  I  should  have  overlooked  the  writings  of  the 
late  Professor  Clifford  on  this  suhject.  It  was  not  till  a  short 
time  before  going  to  press,  and  some  years  after  this  work  was 
written,  that  I  became  aware  of  his  essay,  entitled  "  Body  and 
Mind"  (Lectures  and  Essays).  The  essay  just  referred  to,  to- 
gether with  two  others  on  the  same  subject,  "  Things  in  Them- 
selves" and  "  The  Unseen  Universe,"  are  masterpieces  of  lucid 
exposition.  Professor  Clifford,  whose  death  was  such  a  loss  to 
the  world,  possessed  to  a  rare  degree  the  faculty  of  both  clearly 
conceiving  what  he  wished  to  say,  and  saying  it  in  a  happy  way 
that  was  at  once  thoroughly  intelligible  and  attractive. 

I  rejoice  to  say  that  the  views  of  this  vigorous  thinker  on  the 
question  of  the  relation  between  Mind  and  Body  agree  with  those 
expressed  in  this  work.  He  is  the  only  writer  so  far  as  I  know 
whose  views  coincide  with  those  herein  advanced.  I  regret  that 
I  am  prohibited  from  referring  more  particularly  in  the  text  to 
his  writings. 


CHAPTER    11. 

THE   TKUE   NATUEE   OF   THE   PROBLEM   TO   BE 

SOLVED. 

Having  now  become  familiar  with  that  doctrine 
which  has  been  most  generally  accepted  by  those  best 
qualified  to  judge,  and  having  seen  how  far  short  it 
falls  of  explaining  the  connection  between  those  activi- 
ties we  call  mental  and  those  activities  w^e  call  physi- 
cal ;  nay,  having  seen  that  it  has  even  been  declared 
that  "  the  task  of  transcending  or  abolishing  the  radical 
antithesis  between  the  phenomena  of  mind  and  the 
phenomena  of  motions  of  matter  must  always  remain 
an  impracticable  task.  For  in  order  to  transcend  or 
abolish  this  radical  antithesis,  we  must  be  prepared  to 
show  how  a  given  quantity  of  molecular  motion  in 
nerve-tissue  can  become  transformed  into  a  definable 
amount  of  ideation  or  feeling.  But  this,  it  is  quite 
safe  to  say,  can  never  be  done  f  ^  having  become  con- 
versant with  all  this,  we  shall  now  proceed,  refusing  to 
accept  this  verdict,  to  attempt  the  task ;  with  what 
success  we  shall  leave  to  the  reader  to  determine. 

I  shall  state  at  the  outset  that  theorem  which  I  con- 
ceive will  answer  all  the  requirements  of  the  case  and 
which  it  shall  be  my  effort  to  prove. 

It  is  this :  instead  of  there  beins:  one  substance  with 


1  Fiske's  Cosmic  Philosophy,  ii.  p.  442. 
28 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  29 

two  properties  or  "  aspects/^ — mind  and  motion, — there 
is  one  substance,  mind ;  and  the  other  oppareni^  prop- 
erty, motion,  is  only  the  way  in  which  this  real  sub- 
stance, mind,  is  apprehended  by  a  second  organism : 
only  the  sensations  of,  or  eflFect  upon,  the  second  organ- 
ism, when  acted  upon  (ideally)  by  the  real  substance, 
mind. 

This  may,  at  first  sight,  appear  to  the  reader  as 
practically  the  same  thing,  only  expressed  in  different 
terms.  Bat  it  is  not  so.  There  is  a  radical  difference 
in  the  conception.  The  one  recognizes  one  substance 
with  duality  of  ^^ properties'^  or  '^aspects;''  the  other, 
one  substance  with  one  aspect  only.  If  the  meaning 
of  this,  at  this  time,  be  not  clear  or  be  not  admitted,  I 
must  ask  the  reader  to  suspend  his  judgment,  and  to 
follow  me  with  open-mindedness  through  the  next 
chapter.  If  it  shall  then  be  found  that  this  theorem 
both  explains  all  the  difficulties  we  have  encountered 
and  does  not  lead  to  conclusions  inconsistent  with  the 
facts,  I  shall  consider  that  I  am  justified  in  my  reason- 
ing. 

In  this  problem  we  have  to  do  with  the  relationship 
between  two  worlds  which  are  considered  to  be  radi- 
cally antithetical  in  their  nature, — the  world  of  thought 
and  feeling,  and  the  world  of  things.  The  former  is 
called  subjective,  the  latter  objective.  It  will  be  neces- 
sary before  going  further  to  inquire  more  intimately 
into  what  we  mean  by  each.  This  inquiry  will  neces- 
sarily involve  what  will  probably  be  judged  by  those 
learned  in  the  matter  a  tedious  restatement  of  first 
principles,  but  it  is  absolutely  necessary  for  a  proper 
appreciation  of  the  argument  for  those  not  well  versed 

3* 


30  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND, 

in  philosophic  matters.  Therefore  no  apology  will  be 
offered  for  the  digression. 

The  subjective  world  is  well  known  to  every  one. 
We  all  know  what  a  thought  is,  or  an  emotion  of 
fear,  or  anger,  or  a  sensation  of  pain  or  sweetness.  No 
definition  can  make  the  knowledge  any  more  definite. 
But  the  objective  world  about  us  is  not  so  well  known 
to  us.  He  who  imagines  that  the  things  about  him  in 
the  room — the  chairs,  the  table^  the  pictures — are  really 
what  they  seem,  is  grievously  mistaken.  He  who  picks 
up  a  book,  and,  perceiving  something  which  has  a 
certain  shape,  size,  hardness  and  color,  say  redness, 
and  thinks  that  these  qualities  reside  as  such  in  the 
something  he  calls  a  book,  does  not  know  what  per- 
ceiving a  thing  consists  in.  Physiology  teaches  us 
that  the  qualities  of  any  object,  as  the  book,  are  only 
a  number  of  sensations,  and  accordingly  states  of  our 
own  consciousness.  These  sensations  we  are  in  the 
habit  of  projecting  outside  of  us,  and  then  imagining 
they  exist  as  such  independent  of  our  own  conscious- 
ness ;  but  as  a  matter  of  fact  they  do  not  exist  as  such. 
When  these  sensations  occur  grouped  together  in  a 
particular  way,  we  call  the  group,  after  being  thus 
imagined  to  exist  outside  our  minds,  an  object.  Each 
sensation  then  becomes  a  quality  of  the  object  which  is 
the  whole  group. 

The  object,  then,  does  not  exist  as  such  outside  of  us, 
but  is  only  a  bundle  of  our  sensations.  Undoubtedly 
something  exists  outside  of  us  which  is  the  cause  of 
these  sensations  in  us.  This  something  has  been  called 
the  thing-in-itself,  but  its  nature  is  unknown  to  us. 
If  this  is.  not  clear,  perhaps  an  example  will  make  it 


THE   NATURE   OF  MIND.  31 

SO.  We  are  looking  at  the  question  now  entirely  from 
a  physiological  point  of  view.  When  I  say  that  my 
pipe  is  yellow,  I  do  not  mean  that  there  is  anything 
like  yellowness  existing  in  the  pipe-itself,  but  the  rays 
of  light  reflected  from  the  '^pipe^^  fall  upon  the  retina, 
and  a  commotion  is  excited  among  the  fibres  of  the 
optic  nerve.  This  commotion  is  conveyed  to  the  brain, 
and  there,  in  some  way  or  other  (which  it  will  be  our 
object  to  explain  later),  the  sensation  of  yellowness  is 
created ;  so  that  the  quality  of  yellowness  exists  in  the 
mind  of  the  observer  and  not  in  the  pipe  itself.  All 
the  other  qualities  of  the  pipe  may  similarly  be  re- 
solved into  states  of  our  own  consciousness,  as,  for  ex- 
ample, hardness,  shape,  etc.  It  is  only  after  we  have 
imagined  these  sensations  to  exist  outside  of  us  that 
we  can  regard  the  pipe  to  exist  as  a  pipe  at  all.  But 
after  we  have  abstracted  these  qualities  from  the 
*^pipe,^^  what  remains  behind?  We  have  every  reason 
to  believe  that  something,  which  we  may  call  the  thing- 
in-itself,  exists  independent  of  our  consciousness.  What 
this  is  is  another  question,  which  is  far  beyond  our  pur- 
pose to  consider  here.  We  may  simply  say  that  there 
are  certain  activities  existing  outside  our  conscious- 
ness, which  correspond  to  certain  modes  of  our  con- 
sciousness, and  constitute  the  reality  of  the  latter  when 
these  are  projected  outside  of  us  to  form  phenomena. 
The  nature  of  these  activities  is  practically  unknown 
to  us.  The  only  thing  we  know  is  our  sensations. 
The  material  world  is  thus  resolved  into  certain  un- 
known activities  and  certain  groups  of  sensations, 
which  latter  constitute  our  perception  of  the  former. 
That  these  activities,  constituting  the  thing-in-itself, 


32  "THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

exist  at  all  is  an  inference,  but  an  inference  of  such 
irresistible  force  that  we  cannot  resist  it.  Thus,  the 
properties  of  objects  are  all  sensations  dependent  on 
unknown  activities  outside  of  us.  When  these  ac- 
tivities exist  grouped  together  in  a  particular  way,  so 
as  to  produce  a  particular  group  of  sensations,  we  call 
this  group  a  book,  or  table,  or  chair,  and  artificially 
locate  the  sensations  in  the  external  matter  as  its  quali- 
ties. These  activities  in  matter,  which  may  be  said  to 
constitute  matter,  are  unknown,  and  should  be  denom- 
inated simply  by  X. 

The  apphcation  of  all  this  will  soon  become  appar- 
ent, if  it  is  not  so  already.  That  which  we  call  the 
subjective  world  is  composed  of  our  thoughts  and  feel- 
ings ;  that  which  we  call  the  objective  world  is  a  mass 
of  activities  unknown  to  us,  but  conventionally  desig- 
nated by  subjective  terms  of  sensation,  as  red,  hard, 
sweet,  etc. ;  and  these  sensations  are  the  reaction  of  the 
organism  to  these  external  unknown  activities. 

Now  to  extend  this  reasoning  to  the  same  conditions, 
but  submitted  to  a  further  analysis,  what  do  we  mean 
by  motions,  undulations,  and  such  phenomena?  On 
analyzing  light  by  physical  methods  we  find  it  to 
consist  of  oscillations  of  molecules  of  the  ether.  We 
find  that  difference  in  the  color  of  light  is  due  to  a 
difference  in  the  length  of  these  oscillations ;  that  in 
red  light,  for  example,  the  length  of  oscillation  is 
0.0000271  inch,  and  blue  light  0.0000155  inch,  or  a 
little  over  half  as  long  as  that  of  the  red.  Sound  is  said 
to  be  due  to  vibrations  of  the  atmosphere,  and  the  pitch 
of  any  note  depends  upon  the  rate  of  vibration  of  each 
particle  of  air,  the  greater  the  rapidity  of  the  vibra- 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  33 

tions  the  higher  the  note,  and  vice  versa.  Heat  is 
said  to  be  motion  among  the  molecules  of  matter, — 
the  more  rapid  or  violent  the  motion  the  greater  the 
heat. 

Now  what  is  meant  by  all  this?  Is  there  anything 
really  existing  outside  of  us  identical  with  these 
motions  ?  Do  these  motions  or  vibrations  really  exist 
as  such  outside  of  our  own  mind?  Have,  in  fact,  the 
oscillations  of  the  ether  any  more  real  objective  exist- 
ence than  red  light  or  green  light?  Not  at  all.  We 
have  simply  made  the  really  existing,  but  unknown, 
activities  in  matter  impress  us  through  different  chan- 
nels;  made  them  appear  as  motion  instead  of  color; 
made  the  disturbances  of  the  atmosphere  appear 
through  the  sense  of  sight  instead  of  hearing, — as 
motioQ  instead  of  sound;  made  heat  appear  through 
the  sense  of  sight  instead  of  touch, — as  motion  instead 
of  heat.  But  the  new  sensations  have  no  more  real 
objective  existence  than  old  and  familiar  ones.  These 
phenomena  have  simply  been  translated  from  terms  of 
one  sense  into  those  of  another.  Color,  sound,  and 
heat  have  now  ceased  to  be  such,  and  have  become 
motion.  These  activities  can  be  made  by  suitable  de- 
vices to  appear  to  us  through  several  senses ;  but  we 
must  never  lose  sight  of  the  device,  nor  of  the  un- 
known nature  of  the  activities. 

When  we  talk  about  matter,  then,  what  do  we  mean  ? 
We  may  have  four  different  notions,  each  radically  dis- 
tinct, and  unless  we  bear  constantly  in  mind  to  which 
we  refer  we  are  liable  to  be  led  into  confusion  of 
thought. 

1st.  There  is  the  notion  we  may  have  of  our  own 


34  "THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

conscious  states.  As  such  without  reference  to  any 
thing  beyond  them^  and  consisting  of  groups  of  sensa- 
tions, as  of  the  motion  of  two  points  (which  points  may 
again  be  resolved  into  sensations, — color,  shape,  etc.). 
This  motion  may  be  called  subjective  matter. 

2d.  The  notion  of  the  unknown  reality,  or  thing-in- 
itself,  existing  outside  of  us,  and  corresponding  to  these 
sensations, — the  unknown  X.  This  may  be  called 
actual  matter, 

3d.  The  double  notion  of  both  these  two  classes  of 
facts  and  the  relation  between  them.  This  embraces 
the  other  two,  and  is  the  one  which  should  be  particu- 
larly kept  in  view  when  inquiring  into  the  ultimate 
nature  of  things. 

4th.  The  common  idea  of  matter  as  employed  in 
ordinary  discourse  and  in  the  physical  sciences.  In 
this  sense,  matter  is  made  to  include  our  conscious 
states  (1st  notion)  after  being  projected  outside  of  us, 
and  artificially  made  to  have  an  active  existence  as 
phenomena  or  objects.  This  may  be  caWed  phenomenal 
matter.  This,  as  has  already  been  explained,  is  philo- 
sophically an  erroneous  notion,  being  only  an  artifice, 
but  nevertheless  one  that  is  necessary  for  the  ordinary 
purposes  of  social  life  and  the  pursuit  of  the  physical 
sciences.  Here  it  is  of  inestimable  value,  and,  in  fact, 
we  could  not  do  without  it.  It  would-be  ridiculous, 
not  only  in  the  every-day  use  of  language,  but  in  our 
conceptions  employed  to  carry  on  the  ordinary  affairs 
of  life,  to  bear  any  other  notion  in  mind. 

In  discussing  philosophical  matters,  however,  it 
should  always  be  remembered  that  it  is  only  through 
an  artifice,  as  Lewes  has  pointed  out,  that  we  have  this 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND,  35 

conception ;   but  it  is  an  artifice  that  is  indispensable 
when  properly  employed. 

Now  in  these  different  notions  embraced  by  "  matter'^ 
lies  the  gist  of  the  whole  question  under  consideration. 
These  are  facts  which  even  Macaulay's  wonderful 
school-boy  ought  to  know,  though  it  is  to  be  feared 
that  his  education  has  been  sadly  neglected  in  this  re- 
spect. Certainly  every  one  who  has  discussed  the  sub- 
ject since  Berkeley  wrote  knows  them,  and  yet  we 
continually  go  on  talking  about  "  matter'^  as  if  it  were 
perfectly  plain  what  we  meant,  and  it  were  impossible 
to  misunderstand  which  of  the  four  notions  we  had 
reference  to.  We  take  the  precaution  to  analyze  the 
meaning  of  the  term  in  a  sort  of  prologue  to  our  argu- 
ments, discover  that  it  covers  at  least  four  different 
classes  of  facts,  insist  upon  the  importance  of  the  dis- 
covery, and  straightway  apparently  forget  all  about  it 
when  we  happen  to  require  the  term  for  use.  I  do  not 
think  I  speak  too  strongly  in  saying  that  it  too  often 
happens  that  we  use  the  word  "  matter'^  regardless  of 
the  various  interpretations  that  may  be  placed  upon  it, 
and  I  venture  to  say  that  nine  times  out  of  ten,  even 
those  who  are  the  most  precise  in  the  use  of  terms,  will 
speak  of  matter  without  regard  to  its  being  an  abstract 
term,  and  without  proper  weight  being  given  to  the 
different  facts  embraced  by  it.  If  interrupted  in  the 
flow  of  their  talk,  they  will  with  great  accuracy  ex- 
plain what  we  know,  but  in  argument  the  word  is  used 
in  the  most  general  manner.  Hence  often  difference 
of  opinion  arises  simply  because  of  the  shifting  mean- 
ing given  to  the  terms  employed.  Of  course,  in  speak- 
ing in  this  way  of  the  ambiguous  use  of  this  word,  I 


36  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND, 

refer  only  to  philosophical  discussions.  In  the  physical 
sciences  the  term  is  employed  with  a  special  significa- 
tion, and  is  well  understood. 

Let  us  return  now  to  our  subject,  and  apply  what 
has  been  learned  regarding  matter  to  the  motions  of 
the  cerebral  molecules  which  are  said  to  accompany 
consciousness.  It  is  evident  that  in  speaking  of  the 
molecular  motions  occurring  in  your  brain  I  may 
refer  either  to  the  motion  proper,  which  is  my  state  of 
consciousness,  or  I  may  have  reference  to  the  reality 
actually  occurring  outside  of  me  and  belonging  to  you, 
and  a  part  of  you.  If  I  refer  to  the  former,  I  know 
what  it  is;  it  is  my  sensation.  If  I  refer  to  the  latter, 
the  Reality,  the  question  arises,  What  is  it?  Is  it  un- 
known, and  if  not,  what  is  its  nature?  We  will  ap- 
proach this  question  in  another  way,  which  will  make 
its  meaning  clearer. 

Let  us  consider  these  physical  cerebral  activities, 
and  ask  from  a  purely  physical  point  of  view  what 
kind  of  activities  they  are.  We  have  reference,  of 
course,  only  to  those  activities  which  are  supposed  to 
constitute  nerve-force  and  to  underlie  all  conscious 
states.  Suppose  that  by  a  suitable  device  we  could 
have  them  presented  to  us  objectively,  so  that  we  could 
actually  recognize  them,  how  would  they  appear  to  us? 
That  would  depend  upon  the  sense  we  employed  in 
perceiving  them.  We  might  ideally  (as  we  do  when 
thinking  of  them)  or  actually  see  them ;  they  would 
then  appear  as  motions,  oscillations,  undulations,  or 
some  such  movement.  We  might,  by  the  suitable 
microphone,  hear  them ;  they  would  then  appear  as 
musical  notes.     If  our  tactile  sense  were  sufBciently 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  37 

developed  we  might  feel  them ;  they  might  then  ap- 
pear as  heat.  But  none  of  these  sensations  represent 
these  activities  as  they  really  are. 

Now,  to  put  another  hypothetical  question,  suppose, 
for  a  moment,  that  what  they  really  are  is  conscious- 
ness,— that  is,  a  thought  or  sensation  of  pain, — how 
would  this  sensation  of  pain  appear  to  as  if  we  could 
apprehend  it  through  our  senses,  and  through  the  sense 
of  sight  in  particular  (either,  of  course,  ideally  or  in  the 
brain  of  another)  ?  The  answer  is,  Only  as  all  other 
activities  in  matter  appear  to  us,  namely,  as  motions, 
undulations,  etc.  If^  then,  these  hypothetical  conditions 
were  the  facts,  it  would  be  easy  to  understand  how 
mental  states  can  become  "  transformed^^  into  physical 
disturbances,  and  vice  versa,  because  there  is  no  trans- 
formation about  it.  There  would  be  in  this  case  only 
one  thing,  mental  states,  which  looidd  appear  as  physical 
activities  when  viewed  {ideally)  through  the  senses,  as 
tremors  if  viewed  through  sight.  Now  have  we  any 
reason  for  believing  that  the  actual  activities — these 
physical  activities-in-themselves,  as  they  really  are — 
are  a  state  of  consciousness?  This  it  shall  be  our  effort 
to  establish  by  a  series  of  inferences,  the  only  method 
of  proof  open  to  us  for  such  a  problem.  If  we  are 
successful,  it  would  appear  that  the  reason  for  the  dif- 
ficulty which  has  been  experienced  in  conceiving  how  a 
sensation  can  become  a  physical  change  lies  in  not  prop- 
erly perceiving  the  nature  of  the  problem  we  are  trying 
to  solve.  A  great  deal  of  thought  has  been  devoted  to 
trying  to  understand  how  molecular  changes  are  trans- 
formed into  consciousness,  when  in  reality  there  is  no 
transformation  at  all.      Another  source  of  error  has 

4 


38  THE  NATURE   OF   MIND. 

arisen  from  regarding  the  two  classes  of  facts — the 
physical  and  the  mental — as  two  different  modes  of 
apprehending,  or  aspects  of  the  same  thing.  An  arti- 
ficial parallelism  has  thus  been  drawn  between  them 
which  has  only  served  to  increase  the  difficulty,  and 
has  prevented  all  assimilation  of  one  with  the  other. 
To  this  parallelism  so  much  attention  has  been  devoted 
that  the  mode  by  which  the  parallelism  arises  has  been 
neglected  and  an  artificial  difficulty  created. 

To  show  how  much  stress  has  been  laid  on  this  par- 
allelism and  to  what  difficulties  it  leads  when  pushed 
to  an  extreme  degree  will  require  a  momentary  digres- 
sion. That  a  parallelism  exists  is  true,  but  it  has  been 
exaggerated  into  a  great  bugbear,  because  there  has 
not  been  constantly  and  clearly  kept  in  mind  what  is 
parallel.  Phenomena  have  been  made  abstractions, 
abstractions  unconsciously  made  entities,  and  two  lines 
sharply  drawn  parallel,  which  originate  and  diverge 
from  the  same  point. 

To  justify  this  assertion  I  shall  refer  to  a  very  able 
writer,  from  whom  I  have  had  occasion  to  quote  be- 
fore. ^'On  such  grounds  as  these,'^  says  Mr.  Fiske,  '^I 
maintain  that  feeling  is  not  a  product  of  nerve-motion 
in  anything  like  the  sense  that  it  is  sometimes  the  pro- 
duct of  heat,  or  that  friction  electricity  is  a  product  of 
sensible  motions.  Instead  of  entering  into  the  dynamic 
circuit  of  correlative  physical  motions,  the  phenomena 
of  consciousness  stand  outside  as  utterly  alien  and  dis- 
parate phenomena.  They  stand  outside  but  uniformly 
parallel  to  that  segment  of  the  circuit  which  consists 
of  neural  undulations.  The  relation  between  what 
goes  on  in  consciousness  and  what  goes  oil  simultane- 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND,  39 

ously  in  the  nervous  system  may  best  be  described  as  a 
relation  of  uniform  Goncomitance,  I  agree  with  Prof. 
Huxley  and  Mr.  Harrison  that  along  with  every  act 
of  consciousness  there  goes  a  molecular  change  in  the 
substance  of  the  brain^  involving  a  waste  of  tissue. 
This  is  not  materialism^  nor  does  it  alter  a  whit  the 
position  in  which  we  were  left  by  common  sense  before 
physiology  was  ever  heard  of.  Everybody  knows  that 
so  long  as  we  live  on  earth  the  activity  of  mind  as  a 
whole  is  accompanied  by  activity  of  the  brain  as  a 
whole.  What  nervous  physiology  teaches  is  simply 
that  each  particular  mental  act  is  accompanied  by  a 
particular  cerebral  act.  By  proving  this  the  two  sets 
of  phenomena^  mental  and  physical,  are  reduced  each 
to  its  lowest  terms,  but  not  a  step  is  taken  toward  con- 
founding the  one  with  the  other.  On  the  contrary,  the 
keener  our  analysis  the  more  clearly  does  it  appear  that 
the  two  can  never  be  confounded.  The  relation  of 
concomitance  between  them  remains  an  ultimate  and 
insoluble  mystery.^'  ^ 

Let  us  see  how  much  truth  there  is  in  all  this.  On 
examining  the  passage  critically  it  will  be  found  to  con- 
tain three  distinct  propositions  :  first,  that  states  of  mind 
are  phenomena ;  secondly,  that  states  of  mind,  as  feel- 
ing and  neural  undulations,  are  "  utterly  alien  and  dis- 
parate in  nature;'^  thirdly,  that  the  relation  between 
them  is  only  one  of  parallelism  and  '^  uniform  concom- 
itance." Each  of  these  propositions  will  require  sepa- 
rate consideration. 


^  North  American  Keview,  Jan. -Feb.,  1878.     The  italics  are 
mine. 


40  "THE   NATURE    OF  MIND. 

To  the  first  we  will  devote  only  a  few  words  in  this 
place^  as  it  is  liable  to  involve  us  in  a  discussion  re- 
garding terms  merely. 

It  may  very  properly  be  questioned  whether  states 
of  mind  recognized  as  subjective  can  be  designated  by 
the  same  terms  used  to  characterize  the  physical  world. 
If  the  former  are  actualities^  as  I  hope  to  be  able 
to  show  strong  grounds  for  believing,  and  the  latter 
merely  symbols  of  something  else,  then,  though  the 
latter  are  properly  classed  as  phenomena,  or  the  ap- 
pearances of  things,  the  former  should  be  classed  as 
the  thing-in-itself,  or  actuality,  and  not  phenomena. 
To  insist  upon  this  exactness  in  the  use  of  terms  may 
appear  to  the  reader  to  savor  of  pedantry.  But  it  is 
not  so.  Though  it  may  be  of  no  consequence  what 
terms  we  use  so  long  as  we  bear  continuously  in  mind 
the  exact  conditions  which  they  represent,  still  it  is 
almost  impossible  for  even  the  clearest  thinkers  to  keep 
the  thing  represented  differentiated  mentally  from  the 
terms  representing  it,  and  in  the  prolongation  of  an 
argument  the  two  become  unconsciously  confused ;  so 
that,  though  the  premises  may  be  exactly  defined  and 
true,  in  the  conclusion  and  especially  in  corollaries  and 
deductions  drawn  from  these  conclusions,  errors  of 
great  magnitude  and  serious  moment  creep  in.  Just 
as  a  slight  error  at  the  apex  of  an  angle  may  be  of  no 
consequence,  yet  with  every  prolongation  of  the  sides 
the  error  becomes  amplified.  So  it  is  with  philosophic 
discussion.  The  history  of  philosophy  has  been  the 
history  of  the  misuse  of  terms. 

As  to  the  second  proposition,  that  the  "  phenomena^^ 
of  consciousness  are  ^^  utterly  alien  and  disparate''  from 


THE   NATURE   OF  MIND.  41 

the  phenomena  of  physical  motions,  it  must  rest  upon 
either  one  or  two  alternatives. 

We  have  seen  before  (pp.  30-34)  that  physical  mo- 
tions have  no  objective  reality  or  existence  as  such  out- 
side of  our  own  minds;  on  the  contrary,  they  are 
subjective  sensations,  similar  to  any  other  mental 
state,  though  they  be  caused  by  some  physical  change 
in  actual  matter,  and  of  which  they  are  the  symbols. 
Consequently,  being  subjective,  so  far  from  being  ut- 
terly "  alien  and  disparate  phenomena,^^  physical  mo- 
tions and  mental  states  are  of  exactly  the  same  nature 
and  class.  If  to  this  Mr.  Fiske  replies,  as  he  un- 
doubtedly would,  that  he  takes  the  other  alternative, 
and  means  by  "  physical  motions^^  simply  to  symbolize 
the  unknoion  physical  disturbances  of  which  motion  is 
only  a  subjective  representation, — as  he  must  call  them 
something, — then  I  answer  that  he  clearly  begs  the 
question  in  asserting  that  they  are  "  utterly  alien  and 
disparate  /^  for,  as  he  confesses  that  he  does  not  know 
and  cannot  know  what  these  unknown  physical  changes 
really  are,  he  cannot  logically  assert  whether  they  are 
or  are  not  essentially  similar  to  or  different  from  the 
"phenomena'^  of  consciousness.  If  w^e  do  not  know 
what  they  are,  w^hat  right  has  any  one  to  declare  that 
both  may  not  be  of  the  same  nature ;  or,  at  least,  do  so 
without  strong  circumstantial  evidence  in  favor  of  such 
a  conclusion  ?  But  no  attempt  has  ever  been  made 
through  indirect  evidence  to  establish  this  conclusion. 
On  the  contrary,  everything  points  the  other  way.  To 
assert  without  circumstantial  evidence  that  the  two 
classes  of  phenomena  are  essentially  different,  is  like 
maintaining  that  any  object  whatever,  as  this  pen  with 

4^ 


42  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

which  these  lines  are  written,  has  no  resemblance  to 
any  other  object  lying  at  the  bottom  of  the  sea,  when 
we  have  no  idea  whatsoever  of  the  object  that  is  lying 
there,  or  any  knowledge  of  the  conditions  by  which  it 
came  and  remains  there.  Nor  can  I  reconcile  this  pas- 
sage with  his  approval  of  that  portion  of  Mr.  Spen- 
cer's argument  quoted  on  pages  446-448^  vol.  ii.,  of 
his  '^  Cosmic  Philosophy.'' 

It  is  absolutely  essential  that  we  should  bear  in  mind  at 
the  outset  that  the  physical  changes  which  go  along  with 
every  act  of  consciousness  are  in  reality  not  an  undula- 
tion or  a  motion,  but  an  unknown  X . 

This  oversight,  which  it  would  appear  to  be,  seems 
to  have  arisen  from  too  close  attention  having  been 
paid  to  the  third  proposition,  or  the  parallelism  and 
concomitance  of  the  phenomena.  That  the  two  classes 
of  facts  are  parallel  there  can  be  no  doubt;  that  they 
are  concomitant  there  can  be  no  doubt.  The  same 
thing  may  be  said  of  the  musical  note  and  the  vibra- 
tions of  the  tuning-fork.  They  are  parallel  and  con- 
comitant; but  concomitance  is  not  the  sole  relation. 
No  one  would  think  of  confusing  visual  vibrations 
with  a  musical  note;  the  contrast  between  them  is 
sharp  and  defined.  So  no  one  can  confuse  a  feeling  of 
pain  with  the  oscillation  of  a  molecule;  they  are  sharply 
contrasted  ;  but  it  may  be  shown  that  one  is  only  a 
mode  of  cognizing  the  other,  or  rather,  the  former  is 
the  actual  activity,  the  latter  the  mode  by  which  a  sec- 
ond person  becomes  conscious  of  its  existence.  "  Can 
we,  then,  think  of  the  subjective  and  objective  activi- 
ties as  the  same?"  asks  Mr.  Spencer.  Looking  at 
them  simply  as  activities,  and  not  as   phenomena,  I 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  43 

unhesitatingly  answer^  "  Yes,  we  can/^  ^'  Can  the 
oscillation  of  a  molecule/'  he  continues,  '^  be  repre- 
sented in  consciousness  side  by  side  with  a  psychical 
shock  and  the  two  be  recognized  as  one?  No  eifort 
enables  us  to  assimilate  them.  That  a  unit  of  feeling 
has  nothing  in  common  with  a  unit  of  motion  becomes 
more  than  ever  manifest  when  we  bring  the  two  into 
juxtaposition/^  Mr.  Spencer  has  here  misconceived 
the  nature  of  the  problem  he  is  investigating.  Such  a 
question  is  like  asking  is  a  stone  a  tree,  or  is  sound 
light. 

Whatever  view  he  held  regarding  the  likeness  or 
unlikeness  of  the  activities  called  feeling  to  the  activi- 
ties underlying  the  phenomena  called  a  table,  we  have 
no  reason  to  believe  they  are  unlike  those  activities 
underlying  the  phenomena  called  neural  undulations, 
however  different  they  may  be  made  to  appear  by 
artificial  means. 

If  this  reasoning  be  correct,  the  inference  is  justifi- 
able that  too  much  attention  has  hitherto  been  paid  to 
the  phenomena  themselves  and  too  little  to  the  activi- 
ties lying  behind  them.  It  must  not  be  inferred  from 
anything  that  has  been  said  in  these  pages  that  any  of 
the  writers  quoted  have  not  recognized  the  great  truths 
established  by  Berkeley  regarding  the  amount  that  is 
subjective  in  that  which  we  call  matter.  On  the  con- 
trary, in  the  pages  of  Fiske  and  Spencer  and  others 
they  are  reiterated  over  and  over  again.  But  having 
been  once  recognized,  they  are  straightway  overlooked 
on  being  put  into  application.  This  will  be  considered 
by  some  an  unwarranted  assertion,  but  I  believe  it  to 
be  borne  out  by  the  facts. 


CHAPTER    III. 

THE   SOLUTION. 

We  shall  now  inquire  into  the  grounds  we  have  for 
the  suspicion  that  states  of  mind  and  neural  activities 
are  identical,  and  if  it  shall  be  found  that  the  evidence 
is  sufficiently  strong  to  turn  this  suspicion  into  a  con- 
viction, we  shall  proceed  to  an  investigation  into  the 
conditions  which  cause  them  to  appear  so  strongly 
contrasted. 

The  method  which  we  shall  employ  will  be  the 
physiological  method,  as  being  the  one  most  conducive 
to  positive  results;  but  the  conclusions  arrived  at  will 
then  be  submitted  to  the  test  of  subjective  analysis; 
and  if  they  shall  stand  this  test  we  shall  consider  that 
our  theorem  has  been  established. 

There  are  two  propositions  the  acceptance  of  which 
is  absolutely  essential  for  any  discussion  of  the  problem 
on  which  we  are  engaged.  These  are :  first,  every  state 
of  consciousness  has  its  seat  in  the  brain  (or  at  least  in 
some  part  of  the  cerebro-spinal  system);  and,  second, 
every  such  state  is  accompanied,  as  has  been  so  frequently 
stated  above,  by  a  molecular  change  in  the  substance 
of  the  brain.  The  first  of  these  has  been  so  well  es- 
tablished that  it  would  be  tedious  to  repeat  the  proofs 
of  it  here.  The  second  has  also  been  accepted  on  all 
sides  by  spiritualists  and  materialists  alike.  They  may 
both,  then,  be  considered  as  outside  all  matter  of  con- 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  45 

troversy.  But  now  I  propose  to  assume  what  will  not 
be  so  readily  granted  and  will  even  be  totally  denied 
by  some  people ;  nevertheless  we  have  a  right  to  assume 
it  if  only  as  a  basis  of  investigation.  This  is,  that  not 
only  is  every  act  of  consciousness  accompanied  by  a 
molecular  change  in  the  substance  of  the  brain,  but 
that  the  former  is  in  some  way  dependent  upon  the 
latter,  though  we  may  not  know  how.  This  is  an  infer- 
ence we  have  a  right,  from  a  physiological  stand-point, 
to  make.  Everything  in  cerebral  physiology  points  to- 
wards it.  Everything  that  points  to  the  existence  of 
these  molecular  changes  and  a  concomitance  of  the  two 
classes  of  facts — the  objective  and  subjective — points 
to  this  conclusion.  As  physiologists  we  are  entitled  to 
employ  the  physical  method  and  study  both  classes  of 
facts  objectively,  and  when  we  do  so  this  conclusion  is 
inevitably  forced  upon  us.  It  would  be  carrying  us 
too  far  out  of  our  way  to  go  into  all  the  physiological 
facts  upon  which  this  reasoning  is  based  ;  but  they  may 
be  summed  up  in  the  following  brief  statements :  We 
can  have  no  consciousness  without  a  material  substance, 
the  brain,  nor  without  the  activity  of  the  brain.  In- 
jure the  brain  and  you  destroy  consciousness;  prevent 
the  activities  from  going  on  and  we  have  no  conscious- 
ness. Excite  these  activities  and  consciousness  appears. 
They  appear  invariably  side  by  side.  Alter  the  con- 
ditions of  occurrence  of  the  physical  changes  and  an 
equivalent  alteration  occurs  in  consciousness.  Change 
the  quality  and  quantity  of  the  physical  changes  by 
disease  and  a  similar  alteration  of  the  quality  and 
quantity  of  consciousness  appears  (delirium,  etc.).  In- 
crease the  intensity  and  quantity  of  physical  changes 


46  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND, 

and  a  concomitant  increase  takes  place  in  consciousness. 
This  and  much  more  points  to  a  dependent  relation. 

The  admission  of  this  is  not  a  committal  of  opinion 
as  to  the  nature  of  the  dependency.  It  is  consistent 
even  with  the  belief  in  a  spiritual  mind,  or  with  the 
belief  that  it  never  can  be  discovered  how  the  one  class 
of  facts  is  dependent  on  the  other.  Whatever  view  be 
held  regarding  this  point,  from  a  physiological  point 
of  view  the  conclusion  of  dependency  is  justifiable  and 
sound.  To  be  sure,  it  cannot  be  established  by  positive 
and  direct  proof,  and  it  depends  upon  a  series  of  infer- 
ences for  its  support.  But  it  is  not  for  that  reason  to 
be  discarded.  How  many  things  in  this  world  which 
are  accepted  as  established  facts  are  anything  more  than 
inferences  ?  The  foundations  upon  which  the  sciences 
of  chemistry  and  physics  rest  are  nothing  but  inferences. 
The  boasted  atom  and  molecule  are  nothing  but  hypo- 
thetical existences.  The  ethei',  into  disturbances  of 
which  light  has  been  resolved,  has  only  an  inferential 
existence.  The  external  world,  everything  about  us, 
the  books,  the  table  and  the  chairs  in  this  room,  the 
human  beings  and  the  horses  and  carriages  that  pass  the 
window,  all  animate  and  inanimate  things,  the  world 
and  the  universe  itself,  have  only  an  existence  for  us 
based  on  our  inferences.  We  only  know  the  sensations 
they  produce  in  us;  that  there  is  any  matter  lying  be- 
hind these  sensations  and  the  cause  of  them  is  only  an 
inference,  but  an  inference  so  strong  that  no  one  can 
deny  the  truth  of  it.  Furthermore,  it  is  upon  a  series 
of  inferences  similar  to  those  upon  which  the  depend- 
ency of  mind  upon  matter  is  based  that  half  the  physi- 
ological processes  of  the  body  are  established.     It  is 


THE   NATURE   OF  MIND.  47 

by  means  of  a  similar  series  of  inferences  that  the  liver- 
cells  are  said  to  secrete  bile^  the  peptic  cells  pepsin,  and 
the  salivary  cells  saliva.^  It  must  also  be  borne  in 
mind  to  what  a  large  extent  we  are  dependent  upon 
inferences  for  most  of  our  daily  acts.  We  do  not  hesi- 
tate to  convict  a  man  and  send  him  to  the  gallows,  even 
though  the  verdict  which  convicted  him  was  based  on  a 
series  of  inferences.  It  is  only  upon  a  series  of  infer- 
ences that  the  physician  establishes  his  diagnosis  upon 
which  rests  the  fate  of  his  patient,  and  upon  inferences 
the  merchant  and  the  speculator  risk  their  fortunes. 

Yet  there  are  probably  those  who  will  deny  the 
validity  of  the  inference  that  consciousness  depends  on 
physical  changes  being  induced  in  the  cells  of  the  brain. 
They  only  see  parallel  phenomena,  with  no  bond  of 
connection  between  them.  What  a  mental  act  is^  how 
it  is  related,  if  at  all,  to  the  concomitant  molecular 
change  in  the  brain,  is  declared  to  be  an  insoluble 
mystery,  and  they  do  not  advance  one  iota  beyond  the 
point  where  the  question  was  left  by  Descartes  over 
two  hundred  years  ago.  How  thought  can  proceed  in- 
variably side  by  side  with  physical  change  and  be  un- 
connected with  it,  be  neither  material  nor  spiritual,^  is 
difficult  to  understand.  I  confess  my  inability  to' com- 
prehend such  eclectic  reasoning.  If  we  touch  a  lighted 
match  to  a  piece  of  paper  we  find  it  invariably  burns, 

1 1  hope  no  one  will  imagine,  because  a  simile  is  here  employed, 
referring  to  the  logical  process,  that  the  physiological  process  is 
meant,  and  the  brain  be  supposed  to  secrete  thought. 

2  Compare  Mr.  Fiske's  assertion  that  his  views  are  "  not  mate- 
rialism" with  his  argument  for  quasi-spiritualism  in  "Cosmic 
Philosophy,''  vol.  ii.  part  iii.  chap.  iv. 


48  "THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

consequently  we  say  the  cause  of  the  paper  burning  is 
the  lighted  match.  Whenever  the  gastric  cells  are 
stimulated  gastric  juice  is  formed.  We  still  say  that 
the  latter  is  dependent  upon  the  former.  But  in  the 
brain  a  sharp  line  is  drawn.  Though  mental  activity 
is  invariably  connected  with  cell  activity,  no  dependent 
relation  is  admitted  by  some.  It  is  difficult  to  appre- 
ciate the  consistency  in  asserting  the  one  and  denying 
the  other.  I  think  we  have  as  much  reason  in  the  one 
case  as  in  the  other,  so  long  as  we  deal  with  physiolog- 
ical inquiries,  in  holding  that  one  group  of  phenomena 
is  dependent  upon  the  other  group,  though  we  may  not 
understand  how  it  is  so  dependent.  If  one  chooses  to 
deny  the  validity  of  all  causes  on  the  ground  that  we 
only  know  sequence  in  time,  and  that  the  idea  of  cause 
and  effect  is  only  an  abstraction  of  the  mind,  all  well 
and  good.  But  if  cause  is  admitted  in  one  case,  it  must 
be  in  the  other  also.^ 

It  is  only  so  long  as  we  study  the  problem  from  a 
physiological  stand-point  that  we  observe  two  processes, 
— the  physical  and  the  mental.  The  minute  we  leave 
physiology  we  find  that  there  are  not  two  processes,  but 
only  one  process,  and  a  feeling  is  not  strictly  accompa- 
nied by  a  physical  change.     This  will  soon  be  shown. 

There  is  one  amusing  thing  connected  with  this  dis- 
cussion, and  that  is  the  readiness  with  which  those 
who  deny  any  relationship  between  the  mental  and 
physical  phenomena  seize  upon  the  theory  of  a  physi- 
cal substratum  to  consciousness  and  maintain  the  ex- 
istence of  physical  changes   "in  the  substance  of  the 

1  It  may  be  thought  that  I  am  arguing  against  imaginary  ob- 
jections.    If  so,  no  harm  is  done. 


THE  NATURE    OF  MIND,  49 

brain  involving  a  waste  of  tissue/^  and  which  ''  go  along 
with  every  act  of  consciousness/^  This  doctrine  they 
maintain  with  a  confidence  that  is  amazing,  consider- 
ing that  it  is  entirely  beyond  the  possibility  of  so  called 
proof.  It  is  in  reality  only  theory,  and  supported 
merely  by  a  series  of  inferences  similar  to  those  upon 
which  the  doctrine  maintained  here  is  based.  Neither 
less  nor  more.  And  yet  it  is  commonly  stated  as  if  it 
were  an  established  fact,  entirely  beyond  cavil,  and 
that,  too,  by  the  very  persons  who  refuse  to  recognize 
the  force  of  a  similar  process  of  reasoning  to  establish 
a  relationship  between  mental  and  physical  phenomena. 
But  I  do  not  wish  to  be  understood  to  push  the  ground 
from  under  my  own  feet.  There  is  every  reason  to  be- 
lieve that  these  pliysical  changes  do  occur,  and  that 
they  are  the  foundation  of  every  doctrine  of  a  physical 
basis  of  mind.  But  they  cannot  be  considered  as 
absolutely  established,  and  rest  simply  on  evidence 
similar  to  that  for  the  theory  advocated  in  these  pages. 

To  proceed  with  our  argument.  We  have  two 
classes  of  facts,  mental  and  physical ;  the  former  we 
assume^  to  be  dependent  upon  the  latter.  The  one  we 
know  as  thought,  sensation,  and  emotion  ;  the  other 
utterly  unknown  objectively,  but  represented  by  sym- 
bols in  consciousness.  What  is  the  nature  of  this  de- 
pendence? There  are  four  possibilities,  and  four  only, 
which  are  thinkable. 

First  Consciousness  may  be  formed,  secreted,  man- 
ufactured, so  to  speak,  by  the  protoplasmic  activity  of 

1  If  any  one  denies  the  validity  of  this  assumption,  but  admits 
the  rest  of  my  logic,  I  am  amply  satisfied.  The  case  is  then  suf- 
ficiently proved. 

c        d  6 


50  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

the  cells  of  the  brain^  after  the  same  manner  that  liver- 
cells  secrete  bile. 

Second.  Consciousness  may  be  a  change  in  the  mu- 
tual relations  of  the  actual  or  real  molecules  of  the 
protoplasm  of  the  brain-cells;  that  is^  these  unknown 
physical  disturbances  themselves^ — the  protoplasmic  dis- 
turbances as  they  really  are  ;  the  actuality  of  so-called 
neural  undulations.  It  would  possibly  be  equivalent 
to  the  passage  of  the  protoplasm  from  a  higher  to  a 
lower  state  of  chemical  combination,  or  more  probably 
some  physical  as  opposed  to  a  chemical  change,  as/say, 
so-called  undulations  or  vibrations. 

Third,  It  may  be  the  essence  or  actuality  of  a  second 
and  parallel  physical  change  in  the  protoplasm.  Sup- 
posing, for  example,  the  physical  change,  which  enters 
into  the  nervous  circuit,  beginning  at  one  end  as  irrita- 
tions, and  ending  at  the  other  in  muscular  action,  to  be 
undulations  in  nervous  matter,  consciousness  might  then 
be  the  actuality  of  a  second  physical  change  induced  by 
the  parallel  and  concomitant  physical  change. 

Fourth,  Consciousness  may  be  the  reality  of  a  change 
induced  by  the  cerebral  molecules  in  a  second  substance 
pervading  all  matter  (and  therefore  the  brain),  the 
ether. 

A  very  little  consideration  will  show  that  the  first  of 
these  propositions  is  not  only  untenable,  but  may  be 
reduced  to  an  absurdity.  It  would  not  be  seriously 
considered  here  were  it  not  that  an  expression  made 
use  of  by  a  German  physiologist  has  given  rise,  rightly 
or  wrongly,  to  the  idea  that  such  an  explanation  has 
been  maintained  as  a  doctrine  of  materialism.  Accord- 
ing to  this  view,  every  thought  must  be  something 


THE   NATURE    OF   MISD.  51 

new-formed,  something  newly  brought  into  existence. 
But  this  something  must  be  either  immaterial  or  mate- 
rial. In  the  former  case^  aside  from  the  inconceivable 
conception  of  a  material  substance  manufacturing  an 
immaterial  or  spiritual  thing  or  entity^  it  becomes 
necessary  to  revive  the  old  doctrine  of  a  supernatural  or 
spiritual  mind.  This  in  itself  is  a  sufficient  objection. 
I  shall  have  more  to  say  in  regard  to  it  later.  In  the 
latter  case,  if  this  new-formed  substance,  a  thought  or 
idea  is  a  material  somethincr,  it  necessarilv  follows  that 
this  secretion,  for  such  it  must  be,  must  remain  (a)  in 
the  brain  ;  or  (6)  be  removed  as  such  by  the  natural 
channels,  the  blood-  and  lymph-vessels;  or  (cj  be  de- 
composed soon  after  formation,  leaving  its  resulting 
products  to  be  removed.  The  objections  to,  or  rather 
the  absurdity  of,  all  these  possibilities  (or  impossibili- 
ties) is  so  obvious,  that  any  serious  discussion  of  them 
seems  unnecessary.  But  it  is  somewhat  startling  to 
think  of  the  peril  in  which  the  life  of  any  individual, 
who  boasts  of  an  abundance  of  ideas,  would  be  placed 
from  the  accumulation  of  this  extraordinary  secretion  be- 
neath the  skull.  One  can  imagine  that  the  effect  would 
be  similar  to  filling  his  head  with  dried  peas,  and  then 
pumping  it  full  of  water.  The  sword  of  Damocles 
would  be  a  mere  V^agatelle  compared  to  the  danger  of 
his  own  thouo^hts.  Like  a  steam-encrine  without  a 
safety-valve,  he  would  be  the  generator  of  the  power  that 
would  explode  himself.  While  if  his  ideas  and  sensa- 
tions were  removed  as  such,  by  the  vessels,  they  would 
be  carried  away  to  all  parts  of  his  body  whithersoever 
the  blood  and  lymph  flowed.  We  might  then  be  said 
literally  to  carry  our  ideas  in  our  finger-tips,  while  our 


\ 


62  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND, 

inner  organs  would  once  more  be  embellished  with  our 
emotions  and  the  peculiarities  of  our  character, — a  sort 
of  visceral  phrenology.  We  might,  with  literal  truth, 
be  said  to  have  ''  bowels  of  compassion,'^  and  to  liave  a 
^*  heart  full  of  feeling/' 

The  third  hypothesis  is  not  so  easily  disposed  of,  and 
yet  it  will  not  be  difScult  to  show  that  it  is  untenable. 
In  the  first  place,  it  leads  to  the  negation  of  conscious- 
ness as  a  causative  factor  in  all  our  action.  It  makes 
consciousness  superfluous,  as  everything  could  be  done 
as  well  without  consciousness  as  with  it.  Conscious- 
ness becomes  the  steam-whistle  to  the  engine.  This 
was  shown  in  the  first  chapter.  It  reduces  the  doc- 
trine to  an  absurdity. 

In  the  second  place,  it  is  incompatible  with  the  doc- 
trine of  the  correlation  of  forces ;  for,  if  those  physi- 
cal activities  called  neural  vibrations  enter  as  links  in 
the  dynamic  circuit,  which  begins  with  the  ingoing 
current  and  ends  with  the  outgoing  current,  there  is 
no  link  left  for  those  activities  called  mental.  (See 
page  16,  also  Chap.  V.) 

In  the  third  place,  it  is  an  unnecessary  and  super- 
fluous element.  If  consciousness  could  be  identical 
with  these  second  physical  activities,  so  could  it  be  w^ith 
the  first  series  of  activities.  There  is  nothing  in  favor 
of  the  former  that  does  not  speak  for  the  latter,  which 
are  included  in  the  second  hypothesis. 

The  fourth  proposition,^  that  mind  is  the  Reality  of 

1 1  scarcely  imagined  when  this  chapter  was  written,  some 
eight  or  nine  years  ago,  that  those  unknoivyi  activities,  repre- 
sented to  us  objectively  as  the  ether,  would  ever  be  seriously  pro- 
posed as  an  explanation  of  the  nature  of  mind,  and  much  less 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.'  53 

a  molecular  change  transmitted  to  the  ether,  is  also  one 
which  cannot  be  maintained.  It  is  open  to  every  ob- 
jection to  which  the  third  is  subject.  These  objections 
are  fatal  to  it.  As  with  the  second  activities  so  with 
the  ether.  We  gain  nothing  by  transferring  this  dis- 
turbance to  a  second  substance,  about  which  we  know 

that  the  ether  in  its  material  aspect  would  be  so  made  use  of. 
But  such  seems  to  have  been  the  case.  Dr.  Maudsley,  in  a  work 
lately  published  (Body  and  Will,  Kegan,  Paul  &  Co.,  1883), 
utilizes  the  ether  as  a  means  of  bridging  over  the  conventional 
chasm  between  mind  and  matter,  and  as  explaining  what  mind 
is.  "Perhaps  .  .  .  the  theory  of  an  all-pervading  mentiferous 
ether,"  he  says,  "  may  help  to  bridge  over  the  difficulty.  Por 
if  the  object  and  the  brain  are  alike  pervaded  by  such  a  hyper- 
subtile  ether;  and  if  the  impressions  which  the  particular  object 
makes  upon  the  mind  be  then  a  sort  of  pattern  of  the  mentifer- 
ous undulations  as  they  are  stirred  and  conditioned  within  it  by 
its  particular  form  and  properties  ;  and  if  the  tnind  in  turn  be  the 
mentiferous  undidations  [italics  are  mine]  as  conditioned  by  the 
convoluted  form  and  the  exceedingly  complicated  and  delicate 
structure  of  the  brain;  then  it  is  plain  that  we  have  eluded  the 
impassable  difficulty  of  conceiving  the  action  of  mind  upon 
matter — the  material  upon  the  immaterial — which  results  from 
the  notion  of  their  entirely  different  natures.  Here,  in  fact,  is  a 
theory  that  gets  rid  at  the  same  time  of  the  gross  materiality  of 
matter  and  of  the  intangible  spiritualities  of  mind,  and  instead  of 
binding  them  together  in  an  abhorred  and  unnatural  union  of 
opposites,  unites  them  in  a  happy  and  congenial  marriage  in  an 
intermediate  substance, — a  substance  which,  mediator-like,  par- 
takes of  the  nature  of  both  without  being  exclusively  either." 
The  fallacies,  only  out  of  respect  for  Dr.  Maudsley's  ability  I 
do  not  say  absurdities,  of  such  an  hypothesis  must  be  apparent 
to  the  reader  who  has  followed  me  thus  far.  The  fact  that  such 
a  crude  notion  could  be  seriously  entertained  by  a  writer  having 
such  a  special  knowledge  of  the  subject  as  Dr.  Maudsley,  shows 
how  little  understood  must  be  even  the  nature  of  the  problem 
with  which  we  are  dealing. 


54  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND, 

scarcely  anything,  save  a  certain  amount  of  mystery, 
while  we  break  the  Newtonian  canon,  forbidding  us  to 
postulate  new  causes  before  proving  the  inadequacy  of 
existing  ones.  If  consciousness  can  be  produced  by 
atoms  of  ether,  in  a  state  of  change,  why  cannot  it  be 
done  by  atoms  of  protoplasm  under  similar  conditions? 
Furthermore,  the  introduction  of  a  new  factor  brings 
with  it  new  difficulties  which  are  quite  as  troublesome 
to  explain.  For  instance,  it  is  very  difficult  to  under- 
stand how  changes  in  a  homogeneous  substance,  such 
as  we  must  understand  the  ether  to  be,  can  give  rise  to 
the  multitude  of  heterogeneous  ideas  and  sensations  of 
which  the  human  mind  is  possessed,  unless  there  be  a 
different  kind  of  change  for  every  species  of  mental 
progress ;  a  most  improbable,  if  not  impossible,  assump- 
tion. But,  supposing  it  to  be  the  case,  these  heteroge- 
neous disturbances  of  the  ether  must  be  indicated  by 
corresponding  changes  in  the  protoplasm  of  the  brain ; 
in  which  case  the  etber,  from  a  logical  point  of  view, 
would  be  an  entirely  unnecessary  factor,  and  hence 
there  is  no  necessity  for  introducing  it  as  an  element  in 
the  problem. 

We  are  left,  then,  with  the  second  hypothesis,  against 
which  none  of  the  objections  to  the  others  obtain.  Ac- 
cording to  this,  consciousness  is  the  unknown  cerebral 
activities  underlying  the  phenomena  which  we  call 
neural  disturbances  or  motions.  It  may  be  called  an 
alteration  in  the  temporary  conditions  under  which  the 
Realities  of  the  atoms  of  protoplasm  of  the  brain  exist. 
Consciousness  is  the  supposed  ^^  unknown'^  disturbances 
X,  which  in  this  case  are  known  to  us.  It  is  the  actual 
physical  change  as  it  really  occurs,  not  as  it  appears 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  55 

to  US  objectively.  It  may  be  called  the  essence  of 
physical  change  in  cerebral  protoplasm.  In  other 
words,  a  mental  state  and  those  physical  changes  which 
are  known  in  the  objective  world  as  neural  undulations 
are  one  and  the  same  thing,  but  the  former  is  the 

ACTUALITY,  THE  LATTER  A  MODE  BY  WHICH  IT  IS 
PRESENTED  TO  THE  CONSCIOUSNESS  OF  A  SECOND  PER- 
SON/— ix,,  to  the  non-possessor  of  it. 

Having  arrived  at  this  apparently  paradoxical  con- 
clusion, the  task  still  remains  to  us  to  explain  the  sole 
objection  which  can  be  urged  against  it,  and  this  is : 
How  does  it  happen  that  cerebral  activity  or  conscious- 
ness can  be  presented  to  us  under  such  strongly  con- 
trasted forms?  This  will  be  considered  by  some  per- 
sons to  be  the  same  thing  as  the  original  problem.  How 
physical  changes  or  matter  becomes  transformed  into 
consciousness;  but  with  the  foregoing  presentation  of 
the  problem  it  has  assumed  another  aspect.  The  real 
question  is,  not  regarding  the  transformation  of  matter 
into  mind,  but  how  one  state  of  consciousness  comes 
to  be  perceived  as  another  state  of  consciousness,  or  how  a 
subjective  fact  comes  to  be  perceived  as  an  objective 
fact ;  how  a  feeling  comes  to  be  presented  to  us  as  a 
vibration. 

Unless  this  can  be  satisfactorily  answered,  the  con- 
clusion at  which  we  have  just  arrived  cannot  claim  ac- 
ceptance. For  this  purpose  it  will  be  necessary  to 
submit  it  to  subjective  analysis,  as  was  promised  at  the 
outset;  and  after  this  has  been  done,  if  we  find  that 

^  It  is  not  sufficiently  exact  to  say  that  both  are  different  modes 
of  apprehending  one  and  the  same  thing,  for  that  implies  that 
neither  is  the  actuality.     See  Chapter  lY. 


56  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND, 

there  is  no  real  contradiction,  we  shall  consider  that 
our  theorem  has  been  established. 

For  those  who  are  accustomed  to  think  on  such  mat- 
ters what  has  already  been  said  in  the  last  chapter  will 
be  sufficient,  and  they  will  see  at  once  that  there  is  no 
real  difficulty;  but  for  the  majority  of  readers  some 
further  explanation  will  be  necessary. 

Whether  the  explanation  which  has  already  been 
suggested,  and  will  now  be  offered  with  more  detail, 
will  prove  as  satisfactory  to  others  as  to  the  writer  re- 
mains to  be  seen.  The  confidence  of  the  writer  in  its 
adequacy  and  correctness  is  naturally  strengthened  by 
the  fact  that  though  arrived  at  independently  by  him 
many  years  ago,  it  is  in  many  points  similar  to  that 
originally  offered  by  Mr.  Lewes,  to  whom  the  credit  is 
due  for  having  been  the  first  to  really  perceive  the  true 
nature  of  the  problem.  It  almost  seems,  if  the  reason- 
ing here  employed  is  correct,  as  if  Mr.  Lewes,  however, 
had  missed  the  point  of  his  argument,  for  he  expresses 
his  conclusions  in  terms  which  do  not  seem  to  the  writer 
to  be  applicable.  He  considers  the  difference  between 
the  mental  and  the  physical  processes  to  be  one  of 
aspects,  and  to  be  dependent  upon  the  difference  in  the 
modes  of  apprehension.  My  objection  to  this  mode  of 
expressing  the  relationship  will  be  given  later.  The 
difference  between  us  may  be  only  one  of  terms ;  but 
as  Mr.  Lewes  himself  has  most  rigorously  insisted  on 
the  necessity  of  precision  in  the  use  of  terms,  I  have 
less  hesitation  in  calling  attention  to  the  distinction.^ 

1  The  late  Prof.  Clifford  is  the  only  writer,  so  far  as  I  know, 
whose  views  on  the  relation  of  the  mind  to  matter  thoroughly 
coincide  with  those  herein  expressed. 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  57 

It  may  at  first  sight  appear  impossible  that  these 
physical  phenomena,  with  which  we  are  familiar,  as 
motion,  undulations,  or  what  you  will,  can  also  appear 
as  states  of  consciousness.  But  this  is  because  in  our 
daily  experience  we  are  apt  to  overlook  the  well-known 
fact,  which  has  been  sufficiently  explained  in  the  pre- 
ceding chapter,  that  all  those  properties  with  which 
we  endow  matter  have  no  objective  existence,  but  are 
only  subjective  states  called  sensations,  and  hence  forms 
of  consciousness,  and  these  are  symbolic  only  of  the 
unknown  chana;e  occurrincr  in  matter.  Just  as  the 
words  written  on  this  page  are  symbolic  of  the  ideas 
they  represent,  but  are  as  unlike  as  possible  the  ideas 
themselves.  Any  sensation,  such  as  light,  is  a  repre- 
sentation in  consciousness  of  physical  changes  in  matter 
outside  the  brain,  but  gives  us  no  idea  what  those 
changes  are.  A  sensation  is  related  to  its  physical  ex- 
ternal cause  as  the  dent  in  the  hot  iron  is  to  the  blow  of 
the  blacksmith's  hammer  that  fashions  it.  The  true 
nature  of  a  physical  change  in  a  foreign  body — a  piece 
of  iron,  for  example — is  absolutely  beyond  our  range 
of  comprehension.  A  physical  change  in  my  brain  is 
an  idea,  my  idea.  To  you,  could  you  in  some  way  be- 
come conscious  of  it,  it  would  appear  only  like  any 
other  physical  phenomenon, — as,  for  instance,  a  vibra- 
tion,— being  only  symbolized  in  your  consciousness; 
and  when  you  ideally  conceive  it,  it  is  not  the  idea 
itself  which  you  are  conscious  of,  but  the  disturbance 
in  your  brain  in  the  form  of  a  sensation,  and  this 
you  characterize  as  a  physical  phenomenon,  and  locate 
in  mine.  So  that  a  disturbance  in  my  brain  which  I 
experience  as  an  idea  of  an  orange,  you  ideally  experi- 


58  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

ence  as  a  physical  phenomenon  in  the  form  of  a  neural 
undulation  or  some  similar  (objective)  sensation. 

Let  us  take  a  concrete  example.  We  will  imagine 
that  you  have  a  sensation  of  pain  presented  to  your 
mind;  we  will  also  picture  to  ourselves  a  physical 
process  in  your  brain  in  the  form  of  neural  vibrations. 
Now  these  two — the  mental  and  physical — are  usually 
described  as  two  processes,  both  of  which  occur  some- 
how in  you.  They  are  said  to  take  place  synchronously, 
and  one  is  the  correlate  of  the  other.  But  this  is  not 
the  correct  way  of  putting  it.  We  will  suppose  now, 
further,  I  could  apply  a  microscope  to  your  brain  and 
watch  the  cells  (as  I  can  ideally)  when  this  pain  is  felt 
by  you.  What  now  would  happen  ?  At  the  moment 
when  you  have  the  sensation  of  pain  I  become  conscious 
of  neural  vibrations,  which  I  locate  as  such  (but  errone- 
ously) in  your  brain-cells.  The  real  activities  in  you 
are  pain,  not  neural  vibrations.  The  reason  for  this  is 
this :  your  mental  process,  the  pain,  acting  upon  my 
retina  sets  up  a  process  in  me,  and  as  this  process  of 
mine  is  excited  through  my  organ  of  vision,  I  am  af- 
fected according  to  the  physiological  laws  of  this  organ 
and  become  conscious  of  neural  vibrations.  These 
neural  vibrations  I  erroneously  locate  in  you  while  they 
really  are  parts  of  my  consciousness,  and  the  only  thing 
which  occurs  in  you  is  the  feeling  of  pain.  The  reac- 
tion of  my  brain  to  your  feeling  is  a  sensation  of  vibra- 
tions. The  only  way  in  which  these  activities  could  be 
apprehended  by  me  is  objectively  as  neural  vibrations. 
The  only  way  in  which  they  can  be  brought  into  your 
consciousness  is  as  the  sensation  of  pain.  But,  in  fact, 
it  is  one  process  in  you,  the  sensation  of  pain,  which  is 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  59 

the  real  activity.  Here,  then,  lies  the  parallelism  of 
the  phenomena :  your  consciousness  or  pain  is  the  cor- 
relate of  my  apprehension  of  this  consciousness  as  neu- 
ral vibration.  The  parallelism  is  between  your  Gonscious- 
ness  and  my  consoiousness  of  your  consciousness ,  or,  what 
is  the  same  thing,  between  the  consciousness  in  you  and  the 
picture  in  my  mind  of  neural  vibrations.  The  former  is 
the  reality,  the  latter  the  symbol  of  it.  There  is  an 
invariable  concomitance  of  these  facts. 

Again,  under  the  hypothetical  conditions  stated 
above,  I  cannot  become  conscious  of  your  physical 
changes  or  process  in  its  true  form,  the  sensation  of 
pain,  for  that  which  I  become  conscious  of  is  the  effect 
which  this  physical  process  produces  in  my  brain,  the 
reaction  of  my  brain  to  it,  as  a  sensation  of  neural 
vibrations.  To  be  sure,  I  can  conjure  up  the  sen- 
sation of  pain  by  allowing  my  mind  to  dwell  on  it, 
and  produce  in  this  way  a  so-called  imaginary  pain ; 
but  this  is  an  entirely  different  thing.  In  that 
case  there  would  be  no  relation  between  my  mental 
state  of  pain  and  your  mental  state,  which  I  am  endeav- 
oring to  become  conscious  of.  So  you  can  picture  to 
yourself  neural  vibrations  as  well  as  I,  and  perceive 
them  as  objective  phenomena.  But  here,  too,  the  con- 
ditions are  altered,  and  we  have  to  do  not  with  a  mental 
process  and  its  correlated  neural  process,  but  with  a 
physical  process  ideally  projected  outside  of  your  cere- 
brum, and  a  symbolic  representation  of  it  as  neural 
vibrations  in  your  mind. 

It  is  no  objection  to  this  statement  of  the  nature  of 
the  parallelism  to  say  that  there  is  something  more 
than  a  parallelism  between  your  consciousness  and  my 


60  THE  NATURE  OF  MIND. 

mode  of  becoming  conscious  of  your  consciousness,  be- 
cause you  can  have  both  consciousness  as  pain  and  a 
picture  of  neural  vibrations  supposed  to  occur  side  by 
side  with   the  former,  for  this  amounts  to  the  same 
thing.     For  when  you   conceive  of  correlated  neural 
processes    in   your    brain    you    in    reality    have   gone 
through  the  following  logical  process :  you  first  have 
perceived  hypothetical   physical  disturbances  in  some 
one  else's  brain,  and   these   you    have  recognized  as 
neural  vibrations.     Then  you  have  inferred  that  they 
occur  invariably  side  by  side  with  the  consciousness  of 
the  individual.     Having  determined  this,  you  ideally 
abstract  them,  transfer  them  to  your  own   brain,  and 
infer  that  they  occur  there  under  similar  conditions. 
This  is  the  same  thing  as  if  a  second  individual  had 
been  the  object  of  your  study.     Then  it  follows  that 
when  you  think  of  physical  changes  in  the  protoplasm 
of  your  brain  you  ideally  abstract  and  project  them 
outside  of  you,  and  then  ideally  become  conscious  of 
the  effect  which  they  produce  on  your  mind,  namely, 
the  sensation  of  vibrations ;  but  this  effect  is  entirely 
distinct  in  character  from,  though  correlative  with,  the 
ideas  which  are  the  realities. 

Physical  changes  occurring  in  a  foreign  body,  as  a 
piece  of  iron,  though  giving  us  our  experience  of  it,  must 
be  absolutely  unknown  to  us.  Physical  changes  occur- 
ring in  our  brains  are  clearly  known  to  us;  they  are  our 
thoughts,  our  sensations^  and  our  emotions. 


CHAPTER    lY. 

THE   NATURE   OF   THE    MliN^D. 

Feom  this  point  of  view  it  is  plainly  evident  how 
barren   must    be  the   question,   What   is   the  ultimate 
nature  of  mind?  when  by  it  is  meant  a  desire  to  go 
behind  tiie  facts  of  consciousness.     The  very  question 
involves  an  absurdity.     We  all  know  what  mind  is  by 
direct  consciousness.      Mind  is  mind  and  that  is  the 
end  of  it.     When  we  step  on  a  needle  and  feel  pain 
we  know  what  pain  is;  and  if  we  could  resolve  it  into 
a  dozen  physical  elements,  such  as  vibrations  among 
those  molecules  which  make  up  the  protoplasm  of  the 
brain-cells,  it  would  give  us  no  new  information  on 
the  nature  of  pain.     Those  vibrations  are  not  pain, 
but  every  one   knows  what  pain   is.      When   we  are 
angry  with  any  one  for  an  injury  done  us,  or  feel  sor- 
row at  the  death  of  a  friend,  we  know  what  sorrow 
and  anger  are.     The  mere  consciousness  of  these  emo- 
tions is  sufficient.     So  we  all  know  what  the  idea  of  a 
horse  is.     When  we  say  these  different  mental  states 
are  molecular  vibrations  in   nervous  matter,  it  is,  as 
Lewes  has  well  pointed  out,  a  mere  artifice  to  enable 
us  to  study  the  conditions  under  which  these  states  of 
consciousness  are  generated.     This  artifice  is  of  inesti- 
mable value ;  but  the  fact  must  never  be  lost  sight  of 
that  it  is  an  artifice,  and  the  artifice  must  never  be  con- 

6  61 


62  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

founded  with  the  reality^  which  is  the  mental  state. 
When  the  physicist  declares  that  light  is  a  vibration 
of  the  ether,  and  the  chemist  that  sulphate  of  iron  is 
green  and  sulphide  of  lead  is  black,  both  make  use  of 
a  similar  artifice,  and  endow  matter  with   properties 
which  exist  only  in  their  own  minds.    This  is  a  device 
which  is  not  only  justifiable  but  necessary  for  the  study 
of  nature  and  the  progress  of  science.     In  no  other 
way  could   we  examine  the   conditions   under  which 
phenomena  exist,  and  determine  relations  of  difference 
and  agreement,  in  which  all  knowledge  of  the  objec- 
tive world  consists.     It  is  so  with  the  study  of  mind 
when  we  employ  the  physiological  method.     When  we 
study  mental  states  as  physical  conditions  we  use  the 
physiological  method  ;  but  when  we  inquire  into  the 
ultimate  nature  of  things,  and  desire  to  know  more  of 
mind   than  is  furnished  by  consciousness,  we  fail  to 
bear   in    mind    what    knowing   a    thing    consists    in. 
When  we  ask  what  water  is,  the  chemist  tells  us  it 
is  composed  of  hydrogen  and  oxygen.     But  hydrogen 
and  oxygen  are  not  water :  it  is  only  when  they  are 
chemically  united   that  we  have  water,  and  then   we 
have  hydrogen  and  oxygen  as  such  no  longer.     When 
we  ask  what  sound  is,  the  physicist  says  it  is  the  vibra- 
tion of  air.      But  have  we  now  any   more  intimate 
knowledge  of  its  essential  nature?     On  the  contrary, 
sound  is  the  sensation  which  is  the  effect  of  certain 
unknown  disturbances  in  matter  acting  on  our  audi- 
tory apparatus;  and  when  we  describe  these  disturb- 
ances as  vibrations  we  artificially  make  them  appear  to 
us  through  sight,  and  simply  transfer  them  from  terms 
of  one  sense  into  those  of  another.     W^e  seem  to  know 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  63 

them  better  because  the  sensations  of  sight  are  usually 
more  vivid  and  complex  than  those  of  sound.  It  is 
the  same  with  heat.  Neither  sound  nor  vibrations  nor 
heat  are  the  real  disturbances.  These  must  be  for- 
ever unknown  to  us.  Knowing  the  nature  of  a  thing, 
then,  in  the  objective  world  merely  consists  in  trans- 
lating the  terms  of  perception  from  those  of  one  sense 
into  those  of  another,  or  into  different  terms  of  the 
same  sense.  How,  then,  can  we  have  a  more  intimate 
knowledge  of  the  nature  of  mind  by  saying  it  is  neural 
vibrations?  We  might,  by  means  of  an  extraordhmrily 
delicate  microphone,  listen  to  the  murmur  of  the  mole- 
cules as  they  jingle  against  one  another  in  the  myriads 
of  cells  of  the  brain.  In  that  case  it  might  be  said 
that  mind  was  a  musical  note.  Actual  feeling  is  not 
molecular  vibration,  though  it  may  be  presented  to  our 
senses  as  such ;  but  there  is  no  objection  to  our  using 
physical  terms  to  describe  states  of  consciousness  if  we 
keep  in  mind  the  object  we  have  in  view,  any  more 
than  there  is  to  the  physicist's  using  terms  of  sight  to 
describe  phenomena  of  sound.  In  both  cases  they 
answer  the  same  purposes. 

But  further,  let  us  suppose  that  these  physical  dis- 
turbances could  be  shown  to  be  vibrations  in  nervous 
protoplasms,  and  that  we  could  actually  see  them  under 
the  microscope.  Would  we  now  have  any  better 
knowledge  of  the  ultimate  nature  of  mind  than  at 
present, — aside  from  the  fact,  of  course,  of  the  physical 
motions  having  been  demonstrated  ?  I  hold  not.  Why 
should  the  seeker  after  the  ultimate  nature  of  things  be 
content  to  rest  satisfied  with  these?  He  should  logi- 
cally ask,  ^VWhat  is  the  ultimate  nature  of  vibrations  ?'' 


64  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

and  the  answer  to  this  would  bring  him  back  again  to 
where  he  started,  for  he  would  be  told  that  they  were 
mind.  Consciousness  I  conceive  to  be  an  ultimate,  at 
least  as  far  as  physical  processes  are  concerned,  and 
hence  the  question  as  to  its  further  ultimate  nature 
must  be  an  absurdity.  This  point,  as  well  as  the  sub- 
ject-matter of  the  last  chapter,  has  been  dwelt  upon 
at  the  expense  of  considerable  repetition  because  of  the 
importance  of  clearly  recognizing  what  we  mean  by 
mind.  When  thus  viewed,  we  get  rid  of  the  diflSculty 
of  conceiving  how  a  mental  and  a  physical  process  can 
be  one  and  the  same  thing,  and  how  a  transition  is 
effected  between  the  physical  change  in  the  body  and 
the  subjective  world  of  thought, — the  passage  between 
mind  and  body.  This  has  been  a  difficulty  which  lias 
been  a  stumbling-block  in  the  way  of  all  schools  of 
philosophy,  both  spiritual  and  material.  It  matters 
not  whether  mind  be  a  spirit  or  a  manifestation  of 
matter,  the  difficulty  has  been  found  the  same.  This 
has  already  been  pointed  out.  Even  so  advanced  a 
writer  as  Dr.  Carpenter,  a  writer  of  the  physiological 
school,  makes  this  admission.  ^^Now  in  what  way,'' 
he  says,  '^  the  physical  ohdiUgQ  thus  excited  in  the  sen- 
sorium  is  translated,  so  to  speak,  into  that  psychical 
change  which  we  call  seeing  the  object  whose  image  was 
found  upon  our  retina,  we  know  nothing  whatever.''  ^ 
Ferrier  recognizes  a  similar  puzzle,  but  just  misses 
grasping  what,  I  think,  must  eventually  be  recognized 
as  the  true  solution. 

^'  But  how  it  is  that  molecular  changes  in  the  brain- 

1  Mental  Physiology,  p.  13. 


THE  NATURE    OF  MIND.  (55 

cells  coincide  with  modifications  of  consciousness ;  how, 
for  instance,  the  vibrations  of  light  falling  on  the  retina 
excite  the  modifications  of  consciousness  termed  a  visual 
sensation  is  a  problem  which  cannot  be  solved.  We 
may  succeed  in  determining  the  exact  nature  of  the 
molecular  changes  which  occur  in  the  brain-cells  when 
a  sensation  is  experienced,  but  this  will  not  bring  us 
one  whit  nearer  the  ultimate  nature  of  that  which  con- 
stitutes the  sensation.  The  one  is  objective,  the  other 
subjective,  and  neither  can  be  expressed  in  terms  of  the 
other.  We  cannot  say  that  they  are  identical^  or  even 
that  the  one  passes  into  the  other  ;  but  only  as  Lay  cock 
expresses  it,  that  the  two  are  correlated,  or  with  Bain, 
that  the  physical  changes  and  the  psychical  modifica- 
tions are  the  objective  and  subjective  sides  of  a  double- 
faced  unity .^^  ^  Even  such  an  extreme  materialist  as 
Biichner,  who  has  been  more  soundly  abused  for  his 
writings  than  any  other  materialist  of  the  age  by 
people,  who  either  could  not,  or  more  generally  would 
not,  understand  him,  does  not  even  attempt  to  explain 
the  connection  between  mind  and  matter.  He  contents 
himself  with  merely  stating  the  existence  of  the  con- 
nection. This  connection  becomes  apparent  now  that 
the  problem  is  found  really  to  be  not  how  molecular 
changes  become  transformed  into  consciousness,  but 
how  consciousness  comes  to  be  apprehended  as  physical 
changes.  If  the  views  that  have  been  advocated  above 
are  accepted,  this  can  readily  be  understood.  It  must 
be  distinctly  understood  that  it  is  not  a  question  of 
translation  or  transformation  at  all,  but  of  identification. 

^  The  Functions  of  the  Brain,  1876.     The  italics  are  mine. 
e  6^ 


66  "m^  NATURE   OF  MIND, 

Physical  changes  are  not  transformed  into  states  of 
consciousness,  nor  are  there  "two  processes^^  which  oc- 
cur "  side  by  side"  in  the  same  person.  There  is  only 
one  process. 

The  common  expression  that  "  every  state  of  con- 
sciousness is  accompanied  with  a  molecular  change  in 
the  substance  of  the  brain/^  which  was  for  the  sake 
of  argument  provisionally  accepted  in  the  preceding 
pages,  must  be  regarded  as  unfounded  and  as  leading  to 
great  confusion  and  misconception,  A  feeling  is  not  ac- 
companied by  a  molecular  change  in  the  same  brain;  it  is 
"  the  reality  itself  of  that  change.'^  You  may  say,  if  you 
prefer,  that  a  feeling  in  you  may  be  ideally  perceived 
by  me  as  a  molecular  change,  or  that  your  feeling  is 
ideally  accompanied  by  my  notion  of  molecular  changes. 
But  you  cannot  correctly  say  that  a  feeling  is  accompanied 
by  a  molecular  change  in  the  same  organism,  because  this 
implies  two  distinct  existences  and  leads  to  all  the  fallacies 
of  materialism, 

"  It  is  not  only  inconceivable/'  writes  Mr.  Fisko, 
"  how  mind  should  have  been  produced  from  matter, 
but  it  is  inconceivable  that  it  should  have  been  produced 
from  matter,  unless  matter  possessed  already  the  attri- 
butes of  mind  in  embryo,  an  alternative  which  it  is 
diflScult  to  invest  with  any  real  meaning."  ^ 

Here  we  have  a  capital  illustration  of  the  ambiguous 
use  of  the  word  matter;  for  when  we  clearly  define  to 
ourselves  in  which  sense  we  employ  the  term  the  diffi- 
culty vanishes.  Does  Mr.  Fiske  here  refer  to  sub- 
jective, actual,    or    phenomenal    matter?^     Not,    cer- 

1  North  Am.  Kev.,  Jan.-Feb.,  1878.  ^  gee  page  33. 


THE  NATURE    OF  MIND.  57 

tainly,  to  the  first,  for  subjective  matter  being  a  form  of 
mind  the  statement  loses  all  force,  as  it  becomes  equiva- 
lent to  saying  that  mind  could  not  have  been  produced^ 
from  mind. 

If  by  matter  is  meant  phenomenal  matter,  the  propo- 
sition is  undoubtedly  correct,  for  phenomenal  matter, 
being  only  the  product  of  an  artifice,  has  no  real  ex- 
istence. But  with  this  admission  it  is  difficult  to  see 
much  point  to  the  statement,  as  I  do  not  know  as  any 
one  has  ever  imagined  that  phenomenal  matter  could 
produce  mind.  The  supposition  is  mere  nonsense, 
being  equivalent  to  saying  that  something  which  does 
not  exist  can  produce  something  that  does. 
*  Finally,  if  by  matter  Mr.  Fiske  has  in  mind  the 
notion  of  actual  matter,  then  the  proposition  assumes 
an  intelligible  meaning,  but  at  the  same  time  can 
readily  be  shown  to  be  untrue.  By  actual  matter  we 
mean  the  unknown  reality  underlying  phenomena,  the 
thing-in-itself.  It  comprises  all  those  unknown  forces 
or  activities  which  constitute  the  essence  of  the  uni- 
verse. If  it  is  unknown,  then  we  certainly  are  pre- 
cluded from  setting  limitations  to  its  possibilities.  It 
may  be  inconceivable  hoio  mind  should  have  been  pro- 
duced from  this  great  unknown  universe,  because  such 
a  conception  would  require  an  intimate  knowledge  of 
the  nature  of  that  which,  by  its  very  definition,  is  un- 
known. But,  on  the  other  hand,  nothing  forbids  our 
conceiving  ^to  mind  should  be  produced  from  such  a 
universe ;  and  the  alternative,  that  in  this  case  matter 
must  have  possessed  the  attributes  of  mind  in  embryo, 
instead  of  being  devoid  of  meaning,  becomes  invested 
with  the  deepest  signification.     It  is  not  only  possible, 


68  THE   NATURE   OF  MIND. 

but  in  the  highest  degree  probable,  that  those  activities, 
the  sum  of  which  we  call  consciousness,  are  of  a  kindred 
nature  to  those  activities  which  are  the  reality  of  phe- 
nomenal matter.  Just  as  organic  matter  is  made  up 
of  the  same  physical  atoms  and  molecules  which  make 
up  inorganic  matter,  combined  and  recombined  in  vary- 
ing proportions,  so  there  is  every  reason  to  believe  that 
states  of  consciousness  are  the  resultant  of  the  coaibi- 
nation  and  recombination  of  the  elementary  activities 
which  are  the  realities  of  the  physical  atoms  and  mole- 
cules. The  atom  of  hydrogen  is  the  same,  whether  it 
occur  in  a  free  state  by  itself  or  combined  with  two 
atoms  of  oxygen  in  the  form  of  water,  or  with  a  great 
many  other  atoms  of  carbon,  nitrogen,  oxygen,  and 
hydrogen  in  the  living  organic  substance  called  proto- 
plasm ;  and  there  is  also  every  reason  to  believe  that 
the  '*  force/^  if  we  may  employ  a  term  which  derives  its 
signification  from  our  experience  to  denote  that  of  which 
we  have  no  experience, — there  is  every  reason  to  be- 
lieve, I  say,  that  the  force,  which  is  the  reality  of  the 
hydrogen  atom,  is  the  same  whether  that  atom  be  in  a 
free  state,  or  in  water,  or  in  living  protoplasm. 
Further,  as  the  different  combinations  of  the  forces  or 
Realities  lying  behind  the  atoms  of  inorganic  substances 
exhibit  themselves  in  the  varying  properties  of  such 
substances,  so  the  various  and  more  complicated  combi- 
nations of  the  same  forces  in  living  protoplasm  exhibit 
themselves  in  its  properties  or  vital  functions.  By  a 
still  further  combination  of  the  activities  underlying 
the  properties  of  the  simplest  form  of  living  substance, 
a  lump  of  protoplasm,  and  manifesting  themselves  in 
its  vital  functions,  the  primitive  germs  of  consciousness 


THE   NATURE   OF  MIND.  69 

arise,  and  we  obtain  for  the  first  time  a  glimpse  of  what 
these  forces  of  the  unknown  universe  may  be.^  All 
higher  states  of  consciousness  are  but  combinations  of 
the  simpler  forms. 


^  This  identification  of  the  Reality  of  matter  with  the  elements 
of  consciousness  was  clearly  recognized  hy  Clifford,  and  set  forth 
by  him  with  that  brilliant  felicity  of  expression  and  clearness  of 
conception  which  was  pre-eminently  his. 

This  Reality  he  calls  mind-stuff.  "That  element,"  he  says, 
"of  which,  as  we  have  seen,  even  the  simplest  feeling  is  a  com- 
plex, I  shall  call  mind-stuff.  A  moving  molecule  of  inorganic 
matter  does  not  possess  mind  or  consciousness  ;  but  it  possesses  a 
small  piece  of  mind-stuff.  When  molecules  are  so  combined  to- 
gether as  to  form  a  film  on  the  under  side  of  a  jelly-fish,  the  ele- 
ments of  mind-stuff  which  go  along  with  them  are  so  combined 
as  to  form  the  faint  beginnings  of  sentience."  Again;  "The 
universe,  then,  consists  entirely  of  mind-stuff.  Some  of  this  is 
woven  into  the  complex  form  of  human  minds  containing  im- 
perfect representations  of  the  mind-stuff'  outside  of  them,  and  of 
themselves,  as  a  mirror  reflects  its  own  image  in  another  mirror 
ad  infinitwn.  Such  an  imperfect  representation  is  called  a  ma- 
terial universe.  It  is  a  picture  in  a  man's  mind  of  the  real  uni- 
verse of  mind-stuff.  The  two  chief  points  of  this  doctrine  may 
be  thus  summed  up  : 

"  Matter  is  a  mental  picture  in  which  mind-stuff  is  the  thing, 
represented. 

"Reason,  intelligence,  volition  are  properties  of  a  complex 
which  is  made  up  of  elements  themselves  not  rational  not  intel- 
ligent, not  conscious."     Thing s-in-themselves. 

Mr.  Spencer  seems  also  to  have  come  round  to  this  idea,  and 
clearly  expressed  it  in  a  late  article,  which  has  given  rise  to  con- 
siderable discussion.  "Consequently,"  he  says,  "the  final  out- 
come of  that  speculation  con^menced  by  the  primitive  man  is 
that  the  power  manifested  throughout  the  universe  distinguished 
as  material,  is  the  same  power  which  in  ourselves  wells  up  under 
the  form  of  consciousness." — Religion — a  Retrospect  and  Pros- 
pect.     Nineteenth  Century j  Jan.,  1884. 


70  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

Thus  it  becomes  intelligible  how  matter,  meaning 
thereby  actual  matter,  may  possess  the  ''  attributes  of 
mind  in  embryo/^  But  such  use  of  language  is  meta- 
phorical, and  is  justifiable  only  on  the  recognition  of 
the  fact  that  it  is  metaphor  we  are  using. 

But  after  admitting  that  consciousness  is  the  reality 
of  physical  processes,  the  question  may  be  asked  ;  Is 
there  still  something  more  underlying  consciousness, 
some  substance  of  which  consciousness  may  be  (as  Mr. 
Spencer  holds)  a  mode  or  manifestation  ?  Mr.  Spencer's 
view,  I  take  it,  is  that  consciousness  is  not  the  reality 
of  physical  processes,  but  an  aspect  or  manifestation  of 
this  reality.  This  reality  he  then  calls  the  substance 
of  mind,  and  argues  that  it  is  the  unknown. 

I  confess  that  after  a  careful  and  patient  study  of 
Mr.  Spencer's  arguments  I  am  unable  to  admit  their 
force. 

Grant  the  existence  of  this  substance  of  mind,  and 
it  necessarily  follows,  as  he  has  so  ably  argued,  that  we 
can  know  nothing  of  it.  But  what  is  this  hypothetical 
^'  Substance  of  mind,^^  and  what  are  its  relations,  on  the 
one  hand,  to  the  cerebral  vibrations  which  '^  underlie 
thought,^'  and,  on  the  other,  to  Thought  itself?  The 
minute  we  ask  these  questions  and  seek  for  answers  that 
will  enable  us  to  form  a  clear  conception  of  what  sort 
of  part  this  substance  is  supposed  to  play,  its  mystic 
nature  at  once  becomes  apparent.  For  any  hypothesis 
to  be  comprehensive  and  satisfactory  it  is  essential 
that  we  should  be  able  to  form  a  definite  and  clear 
picture  in  our  minds  of  the  conditions  which  we  sup- 
pose to  be  present,  but  I  doubt  very  much  whether 
any  one  can  form  such  a  picture  from  Mr.  Spencer's 


THE   NATURE   OF  MIND.  71 

exposition  of  the  subject^  whatever  Mr.  Spencer's  own 
condition  of  mind  may  be.  Nay,  more,  I  do  not  see 
how  different  passages  in  his  writings  can  be  reconciled 
one  wath  another. 

In  the  first  place,  what  evidence  can  be  adduced  in 
favor  of  this  Substance.  ''  Let  us  yield,^^  he  says,  ^'  to 
the  necessity  of  regarding  impressions  and  ideas  as 
forms  or  modes  of  a  continually  existing  something. 
Failing  in  every  effort  to  break  the  series  of  impres- 
sions and  ideas  in  two,  we  are  prevented  from  think- 
ing of  them  as  separate  existences.  While  each  par- 
ticular impression  or  idea  can  be  absent,  that  which 
holds  impression  and  ideas  together  is  never  absent, 
and  its  unceasing  presence  necessitates,  or  indeed  con- 
stitutes, the  notion  of  continuous  existence  or  reality.'' 

I  am  unable  to  see  in  this  more  than  a  subtle  play- 
ing with  thought,  if  not  with  words.  Admitting  tliat 
while  consciousness  is  present  we  cannot  have  an  idea 
or  impression  isolated  from  every  other  idea  or  impres- 
sion, which  is,  I  presume,  what  is  meant  by  failure 
to  break  the  series  in  two,  I  fail  to  see  this  logical 
necessity  which  compels  us  to  thus  look  upon  ideas 
as  '^  modes  of  a  continually  existing  something''  and 
which  prevents  us  from  regarding  them  as  separate 
existences ;  or  at  any  rate,  whether  we  do  the  latter  or 
not  depends  upon  what  is  meant  by  existence,  a  ques- 
tion which,  if  entered  into  here,  would  prolong  too  far 
this  discussion  already  grown  to  great  length.  The 
argument  also  contains  a  manifest  petitio  principii, 
"  That  which  holds  impressions  and  ideas  together  is 
never  absent,"  it  is  said.  This  can  only  be  asserted 
on  the  assumption  that  there  is  something  more  than 


72  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND, 

and  in  addition  to  consciousness^  which  holds  every 
state  of  consciousness  together.  But  the  only  proof 
of  this  is  the  assertion^  or  a  possible  inference  from 
our  failure  ^^to  break  the  series  of  ideas  and  impres- 
sions in  two  f  an  inference  which  ignores  all  other  pos- 
sible exphinations.  The  existence  of  this  substance  of 
mind  is  first  assumed,  and  then  said  never  to  be  absent. 
It  would  not  be  irrelevant  to  ask  what  becomes  of  this 
substance  during  sleep  and  similar  states  of  uncon- 
sciousness, and  how  it  is  known  that  here  it  is  not  ab- 
sent. When  we  analyze  our  thoughts,  we  find  that  we 
know  only  successive  and  coexisting  states  of  conscious- 
ness,— nothing  more, — and  though  we  may  infer  there 
is  something  more  underlying  them  and  holding  them 
together,  such  a  conclusion  would  be  an  inference  which 
may  or  may  not  be  true,  and,  as  Mr.  Spencer  argues, 
we  can  know  nothing  about  its  nature  whatsoever.  It 
seems  somewhat  strange,  then,  that  Mr.  Spencer  should 
assume  that,  "by  the  definition,  it  [the  substance  of 
mind]  is  that  which  undergoes  the  modification  pro- 
ducing a  state  of  mind.^^  For,  as  we  can  know  nothing 
about  it,  it  would  seem  evident  that  we  cannot  know 
whether  or  not  it  is  capable  of  "undergoing  a  modifi- 
cation.^^ This  seems  a  curious  assumption  regarding 
the  qualities  of  a  thing  which  it  is  one's  endeavor  to 
show  is  absolutely  unknowable,  which  Mr.  Spencer 
proceeds  to  do. 

But  admitting  the  existence  of  this  substance  of 
mind,  what  is  it,  and  what  are  its  relations  to  states 
of  consciousness  and  to  the  physical  vibrations  of  the 
brain?  At  first  sight  it  would  seem — and  this  inter- 
pretation is  most  in  harmony  with  other  passages  in 


THE   NATURE   OF  MIND.  73 

Mr.  Spencer's  writings — that  the  substance  of  mind  is 
identified  with  the  Unknown  Reality  lying  behind  the 
phenomena  of  physical  motion ;  so  that  this  great 
Unknown  ''  Force^^  is  capable  of  being  presented  to 
our  consciousness  under  two  forms;  namely,  when 
viewed  through  the  senses  as  physical  vibrations,  when 
otherwise  viewed  {hoiof)  as  states  of  consciousness ;  but 
in  either  case  the  Reality  always  remains  unknown. 
This  seems  to  be  clearly  enough  meant  in  the  passage, 
"  For  what  is  objectively  a  change  in  a  superior  nerve- 
centre  is  subjectively  a  feeling,  and  the  duration  under 
the  one  aspect  measures  the  duration  of  it  under  the 
other.^^  ^  And  again  in  the  passage,  "When  with 
these  conclusions  that  matter  and  motion,  as  we  think 
them,  are  but  symbols  of  unknowable  forms  of  exist- 
ence, we  join  the  conclusion  lately  reached  that  mind 
also  is  unknowable,  and  that  the  simplest  form  under 
which  we  can  think  of  its  substance  is  but  a  symbol  of 
something  that  can  never  be  rendered  into  thought; 
we  see  that  the  whole  question  is  at  least  nothing  more 
than  the  question  whether  these  symbols  should  be  ex- 
pressed in  terms  of  those,  or  those  in  terms  of  these,  a 
question  scarcely  worth  deciding,  since  either  answer 
leaves  us  as  completely  outside  the  reality  as  we  were 
at  first.'^  ^  This  view  of  the  case  is  essentially  the  same 
as  that  which  was  held  by  Lewes. 

The  objections  to  regarding  states  of  consciousness  as  a 
mode  of  apprehending  or  as  symbols  of  an  Unknown 
Substance  will  be  presently  given.  I  may  briefly  say 
here  that  any  such  conception  makes  the  relation  be- 

1  Loc.  cit.  2  Op.  cit  ,  p.  159. 

D  7 


74  THE  NATURE    OF  MIND. 

tween  the  states  of  consciousness  we  call  cerebral  motions 
(subjective  matter)  and  the  Unknown  Reality  (actual 
matter)  similar  to  the  relation  between  that  conscious- 
ness which  is  said  to  be  correlated  with  those  motions 
and  this  same  Unknown  Reality^  which  is  impossible. 

But,  on  the  other  hand,  if  this  be  the  intent  of  Mr. 
Spencer's  position,  why  should  consciousness  be  re- 
garded as  a  mode  or  manifestation  of  the  substance  of 
mind  ?  As  has  been  said,  this  substance  being  something 
far  beyond  the  possibility  of  our  knowledge,  we  cannot 
even  say  it  is  capable  of  having  modes  or  manifestation. 

The  radical  distinction  between  Mr.  Spencer's  po- 
sition and  mine  is  this :  He  supposes  an  unknown 
Reality,  which,  when  apprehended  through  the  senses, 
is  recognized  as  physical  motions,  but  which,  after 
having  undergone  certain  modifications,  becomes  known 
as  mind.     (How  ?) 

The  view  here  maintained  is  that  every  state  of 
consciousness  is  not  a  "  mode  or  manifestation''  of  an 
unknown  Reality,  but  is  the  Reality  itself,  which  is 
therefore  known,  and  which  becomes  recognized  as  a 
physical  motion  of  some  kind  when  apprehended  by  a 
second  person  through  the  senses. 

Mr.  Spencer's  views  have  led  him  to  the  conclusion 
that  ^^  Though  mind  and  nervous  action  are  the  sub- 
jective and  objective  faces  of  the  same  thing,  we  re- 
main utterly  incapable  of  seeing  and  even  imagining 
how  the  two  are  related."  On  the  other  hand,  the 
views  here  maintained  show  clearly  and  satisfactorily 
how  the  two  are  related. 

Mr.  Spencer  describes  consciousness  indifferently  as 
"  modes  or  manifestations,"  '^  symbols,"  and  "  aspects" 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  75 

of  an  underlying  substance.  But  no  such  language 
can  be  used  to  describe  the  conditions  we  have  endeav- 
ored to  prove. 

In  only  one  sense  can  there  be  said  to  be  an  Un- 
known Substance  of  Mind,  and  this  we  can  arrive  at 
only  by  objective  inquiry.  The  molecular  motions 
which  correspond  to  any  state  of  consciousness  take 
place  in  a  very  highly  organized  substance,  the  proto- 
plasm of  the  brain-cells.  Now  this  substance  is  of  a 
very  complex  composition,  being  made  up  of  a  very 
great  number  of  atoms  of  carbon,  hydrogen,  nitrogen, 
and  oxygen.  But  to  each  atom  there  is  a  correspond- 
ing unknown  '^  force,^^  which  is  the  Reality  of  it,  while 
the  Reality  of  a  molecule  of  protoplasm  may  be  re- 
garded as  the  result  of  the  combination  of  Realities 
of  the  atoms.  Going  further,  whether  we  adopt  the 
vortex  theory  of  Thompson  or  not,  as  there  is  reason 
to  believe  the  atoms  of  different  chemical  elements 
are  compounds  of  some  simpler  substance,  which  for 
the  sake  of  illustration  we  may  call  hydrogen,  so  the 
Realities  of  these  different  chemical  atoms  will  be  the 
combination  in  varying  proportions  of  the  centres  of 
force  lying  behind  the  hydrogen  atom.  The  Reality, 
then,  which  is  the  unknown  ^'  force'^  lying  behind  and 
corresponding  to  that  group  of  sensations  we  call  a 
molecule  of  cerebral  protoplasm,  will  be  a  compound 
of  the  Realities  of  its  ingredient  atoms,  which  in  turn 
are  a  compound  of  the  Reality  of  the  primitive  (hydro- 
gen ?)  atom. 

Now  as  the  interaction  of  the  Realities  of  the  proto- 
plasmic molecules  constitutes  consciousness,  we  may 
imagine  different  states  or  kinds  of  consciousness  to 


76  THE   NATURE   OF  MIND, 

correspond  to  the  interaction  of  varying  groups  of 
molecules  of  the  same  or  different  chemical  compo- 
sition, these  molecules  being  contained  in  a  varying 
number  of  cells  of  the  brain. 

The  Reality^  then^  of  the  molecule  of  protoplasm  in 
contradistinction  to  the  Reality  of  the  interaction  of 
the  molecules  might  in  this  sense  be  regarded  as  the 
substance  of  mind,  though  the  same  process  of  reason- 
ing would  compel  us,  perhaps,  not  to  rest  here,  but  to 
continue  our  analysis  until  we  had  arrived  at  the  reality 
or  force  underlying  the  group  of  sensations  called  the 
atom  of  hydrogen,  or  whatever  the  primitive  substance 
may  be.    This  would  then  be  the  Substance  of  Mind. 

This,  brings  us  to  another  matter  which  has  already 
been  touched  upon,  but  on  which  it  was  promised  that 
something  more  would  be  said.  I  refer  to  the  matter 
of  ^^  Aspects.^^  We  have  seen  how  physical  processes 
and  consciousness  have  been  spoken  of  by  some  as  dual 
properties  of  matter.  So,  in  the  same  way,  conscious- 
ness is  often  referred  to,  so  far  as  the  reality  is  concerned, 
as  facts  of  the  same  order  as  physical  processes;  that 
is,  as  "  phenomena'^  and  ''  symbols  of  the  unknown.^^ 
Thus,  to  requote  Mr.  Spencer :  ''  When  with  these 
conclusions,  that  matter  and  motion,  as  we  think  them, 
are  but  symbols  of  unknowable  forms  of  existence,  we 
join  the  conclusion  lately  reached,  that  mind  also  is  un- 
knowable, and  that  the  simplest  form  under  which  we 
can  think  of  its  substance  is  but  a  symbol  of  something 
that  can  never  be  rendered  into  thought,  we  see  that 
the  whole  question  is  at  least  nothing  more  than  the 
question  whether  these  symbols  should  be  expressed  in 
terms  of  those,  or  those  in  terms  of  these, — a  question 


THE   NATURE   OF  MIND,  ^^ 

scarcely  worth  deciding,  since  either  answer  leaves  us 
as  completely  outside  of  the  reality  as  we  were  at  first/^  ^ 

Now  it  may  very  properly  be  questioned  whether  a 
state  of  mind,  as  a  feeling,  can  be  conceived  of  as  a 
symbol  of  its  own  substance.  We  can  say  an  idea  of 
anything  external  to  us,  as  of  a  tree,  is  only  a  symbol 
of  the  actual  something  which  exists  there ;  for  the  idea 
of  a  tree  is  only  the  effect  which  the  actual  object  pro- 
duces on  the  mind,  just  as  the  impression  in  wax  of  a 
seal  is  a  representation  or  symbol  of  the  seal ;  or  better, 
as  the  printed  word  is  a  symbol  of  the  idea  it  repre- 
sents, but,  as  a  printed  form,  has  nothing  in  common 
with  that  idea. 

But  in  this  case  there  are  required  and  present  two 
things, — one,  the  something  to  be  symbolized,  the  tree- 
in-itself,  and  the  other,  the  something  in  which  the 
symbol  is  to  be  formed,  the  mind,  and  one  is  distinct 
from  the  other.  But  for  a  state  of  mind  to  be  a  symbol 
of  its  own  substance,  it  is  requisite  that  this  particular 
state  of  mind  should  have  an  existence  separate  from 
that  underlying  substance,  or,  in  other  words,  separate 
from  itself.  Otherwise  the  state  of  mind  could  not  be 
acted  upon  by  the  substance.  But  if  it  is  separate,  it 
is  a  distinct  entity,  and  then  this  underlying  something 
cannot  be  the  substance  of  mind.  In  brief,  to  quote 
Mr.  Spencer  himself  in  another  connection,  "  A  thing 
cannot  at  the  same  instant  be  both  subject  and  object 
of  thought,  and  yet  the  substance  of  mind  must  be  this 
before  it"  can  be  both  the  symbol  and  the  thing  sym- 
bolized. 

Whatever  view  be  taken  regarding  the  existence  and 

iQp.  cit.,  p.  159. 
7* 


78  THE  NATURE  OF  MIND. 

nature  of  a  something  underlying  consciousness,  it  is 
quite  evident  that  the  latter  cannot  be  regarded  as  facts 
of  the  same  order  as  its  "accompanying'^  physical 
changes,  as  is  done  when  both  are  regarded  as  symbols 
of  something  else. 

This  same  looseness  of  thought  and  language  has  led 
to  physical  and  mental  processes  being  regarded  as 
diflFerent  "aspects^^  of  the  same  thing. 

Even  so  acute  a  thinker  as  Mr.  Lewes  has  described 
mind  and  physical  changes  as  different  "  aspects  of  one 
and  the  same  process.'^  This  cannot  be  the  correct 
conception,  for  it  also  makes  matter  and  feeling  facts 
of  the  same  order.  If  mind  and  matter  are  to  be  re- 
garded as  "  aspects/'  it  must  be  that  either  they  are 
aspects  of  each  other  or  of  a  third  thing,  as  of  Spencer's 
substance  of  mind. 

In  the  former  case  matter  might  be  regarded  as  an 
aspect  of  mind,  but  mind  cannot  be  imagined  as  an 
aspect  of  matter,  as  appears  to  be  meant  when  Lewes 
says,  "  a  mental  process  is  only  another  aspect  of  a 
physical  process."^  Now  a  physical  process  may  cer- 
tainly be  looked  upon  as  an  aspect  of-  a  mental  process, 
because  it  is  the  effect  of  the  mental  process  on  another 
organism,  but  the  mental  process  being  the  actuality  of 
the  physical  process, — the  physical  process  in  itself, — 
there  is  nothing  for  it  to  be  an  effect  or  aspect  of. 
What  has  been  said  in  regard  to  the  conception  of 
mind  as  a  symbol  is  equally  applicable  here. 

Under  the  second  alternative,  that  they  are  different 
aspects  of  an  underlying  substance,  physical  processes 
may  also  be  aspects,  but  mental  processes  not.     For, 

1  Physical  Basis  of  Mind,  p.  886. 


THE   NATURE   OF  MIND.  79 

io  order  that  the  latter  may  be  an  aspect  of  this  sub- 
stance, there  must  be  another  substance  or  mind  on 
which  the  underlying  substance  can  work  to  produce 
the  effect  or  aspect  called  consciousness.  But  where  is 
there  such  another  substance?  We  each  of  us  have 
only  one  mind  apiece. 

This  may  be  expressed  in  another  way.  To  speak 
of  anything  as  an  aspect  of  something  else  implies 
something  perceived  and  something  perceiving,  and  the 
effect  of  the  former  upon  the  latter  is  the  aspect  of  the 
former,  the  thing  perceived.  Now  for  consciousness 
to  be  an  aspect  of  the  substance  of  mind  there  is  re- 
quired, in  addition  to  this  substance,  another  thing  or 
mind  to  perceive  it,  and  consciousness  must  be  the 
effect  of  the  former  upon  the  latter.  But  where  is  this 
second  mind?  There  is  none.  Such  an  assumption 
would  require  a  second  entity,  as  a  spirit.  Therefbre, 
if  matter  is  an  aspect,  or  the  reaction  of  an  organism  to 
something  else,  consciousness  cannot  be  aspect.  The 
two  can  never  be  spoken  of  as  facts  of  the  same  cla^s. 
Besides,  as  was  said  in  Chapter  L,  if  these  two  classes 
of  facts  could  be  regarded  as  simply  the  subjective  and 
objective  aspects  of  one  and  the  same  thing,  it  would 
fall  far  short  of  offering  us  an  adequate  explanation, 
and  would  involve  us  in  many  difficulties  such  as  have 
been  pointed  out. 

Exception  may  be  taken  to  that  meaning  of  the  term 
"aspect'^  which  I  have  employed.  But  if  aspect  is 
not  to  be  taken  in  its  ordinary  and  exact  sense,  then  it 
must  mean  very  little  or  anything  that  one  may  choose, 
and  is  still  more  objectionable  as  an  interpretation  of 
the  question. 


80  THE   NATURE   OF  MIND, 

The  same  objection  holds  to  the  expression  that 
matter  and  mind  are  only  '^  different  modes  of  appre- 
hending the  same  thing."  Consciousness  cannot  be  a 
mode  of  apprehending  something  else,  because  this 
also  implies  the  existence  of  something  else  that 
apprehends.     What  is  it  ? 

Again,  if  by  the  term  matter  be  meant  the  con- 
scious states  by  which  things-in-themselves  are  known 
to  us,  then  matter  and  mind  are  plainly  not  two  differ- 
ent aspects  of  the  same  fact.  On  the  contrary,  they 
are  clearly  different  psyehical  fads.  The  sensation  of 
mental  tremors  is  one  fact,  the  conscious  state  which  is 
the  reality  of  those  tremors  is  another  fact.  Each  is  a 
subjective  fact  occurring  in  separate  organisms.  The 
conscious  state  called  a  sensation  of  color  takes  place  in 
organism  A,  for  example,  and  the  conscious  state  called 
neural  tremors  in  organism  B,  which  is  observing  A. 
But  the  conscious  state  in  A  is  the  cause  of  the  con- 
scious state  in  B,  which  latter  can,  in  this  sense  only,  be 
said  to  be  an  aspect  of  the  state  of  A,  but  not  vice  versa. 

If  by  matter  be  meant  not  phenomena,  but  the  thing- 
in-itself,  then  still  less  can  matter  and  mind  be  regarded 
as  different  aspects  of  the  same  fact.  For  by  cerebral 
tremors  we  now  mean  the  reality  of  these  tremors,  and, 
as  I  have  endeavored  to  demonstrate,  this  reality  and 
consciousness  are  one  and  the  same  fact.  This  will 
become  intelligible  if  the  reader  will  refer  to  what  was 
said  regarding  the  meaning  of  the  term  matter  in 
Chapter  II. 

On  pursuing  this  mode  of  inquiry  further,  certain 
important  results  follow,  which  it  will  be  necessary  for 
us  to  consider. 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND.  81 

Let  US  suppose  a  complicated  apparatus,  as  of  micro- 
scopes^ by  which  B  observes  what  takes  place  in  A's 
brain  when  he  has  a  sensation  of  color,  for  example; 
and  C  observes  what  occurs  in  B's  brain  at  the  same 
instant.  Then  it  would  happen  that  at  the  moment 
when  A  has  the  sensation  of  redness,  B  has  the  sensa- 
tion of  cerebral  tremors,  and  also  C  has  a  sensation 
of  tremors.  This  may  be  graphically  represented  as 
follows : 


We  have  then  the  following  as  a  result  of  these  con- 
ditions : 

In  organism  A  :  Sensation  of  color ;  an  actuality  and 

the  reality  of. 

In  organism  B :  Cerebral  tremors ;  a  conscious  state, 

and  as  such  also  a  realitv,  but  also 

commonly  known  as  phenomena  or 

matter  when   projected  outside  of 

the  organism  and   given   objective 

existence  in  A.     It  is  the  form  in 

which  color  in  A  is  symbolized  in  B. 

In  organism  C :  Cerebral  tremors ;  a  conscious  state, 

and  as  such  an  actuality,  and  the 

form  in  which  the  conscious  state  in 

B  is  symbolized  in  C. 

Cerebral  tremors,  then,  are  a  conscious  state,  which 

may  be  a  form  of  apprehending  in  a  second  organism 

either, 

/ 


82  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

1st.  An  unlike  conscious  state, — sound,  color,  thought, 
etc. 

2d.  A  similar  conscious  state  or  cerebral  tremor. 

In  this  instance  of  C,  then,  we  are  brought  to  what 
seems  at  first  the  surprising  fact,  that  that  conscious  state 
called  cerebral  tremors,  which  is  the  cognition  of  the 
thing-in-itself,  and  known  as  phenomena,  and  the  thing- 
in-itself,  also  cerebral  tremors  in  B,  are  similar  though 
separate  facts.  And  under  the  conditions  just  men- 
tioned it  might  almost  be  said  that  neural  tremors  exist 
outside  of  us  as  such ;  or  in  other  words,  that  such  phe- 
nomena exist  practically  as  we  see  them.  I  say  prac- 
tically, for  although  the  conscious  state,  neural  motions, 
possessed  by  one  organism,  may  be  perceived  by  an- 
other also  as  neural  motions  in  the  brain  of  the  former, 
still  it  does  not  follow  that  these  first  motions  would  be 
perceived  as  the  same  kind  of  motion.  They  would 
be  perceived  as  motion  of  some  kind,  but  not  neces- 
sarily as  the  same  kind.  For  instance,  taking  the  same 
illustration  used  above,  A^s  sensation  of  color  might 
be  perceived  by  B  as  undulatory  motion ;  the  conscious 
state  of  undulatory  motion  in  B  might  be  perceived  as 
circular  motion  by  C ;  which  again  might  be  represented 
in  D's  consciousness  by  spiral  motion,  and  so  on.  I  do 
not  mean  to  say  that  these  particular  motions  do  actually 
exist.  That  would  depend  upon  physical  conditions 
not  yet  understood.  All  I  mean  is  that  some  kind  of 
motion  or  physical  change  may  under  some  conditions 
be  the  mode  of  apprehending  a  motion  which  may  or 
may  not  be  the  same  in  kind;  and  we  perceive  the 
thing-in-itself  as  it  really  exists. 


CHAPTER  Y. 

THE   CORRELATION   OF   FORCES. 

We  have  now  arrived  at  a  position  to  consider  an- 
other element  in  this  problem,  and  one  for  which  it  is 
essential  to  find  a  satisfactory  explanation.  I  refer  to 
the  law  of  the  Correlation  of  Forces.  If  states  of  mind 
are  simply  states  of  matter,  it  is  insisted  they  must  be 
brought  into  harmony  with  all  those  general  laws  which 
govern  the  phenomena  of  matter.  The  d  iflficulty  of  find- 
ing an  application  of  this  law  to  mental  conditions  has 
been  generally  recognized,  and  this  difficulty  has  been 
taken  advantage  of  by  those  styling  themselves  "anti- 
materialists/^  and  urged  with  considerable  force  as  an 
objection.  Unless  this  objection  can  be  met,  material- 
ism must  admit  a  vulnerable  point.  For  those  who  are 
unfamiliar  with  physical  science,  it  will  be  necessary 
for  a  thorough  comprehension  of  the  argument  to  state 
with  some  fulness  the  meaning  and  application  of  the 
phrase  "correlation  of  forces.''  I  cannot  do  this 
better  than  in  the  words  of  Mr.  Fiske,  who  at  the 
same  time  forcibly  states  the  objections  we  are  obliged 
to  meet :  "  Let  us  now  apply  these  principles  to  the 
case  of  an  organism,  such  as  the  human  body.  All  of 
the  ^  force' — i.e.^  capacity  of  motion — present  at  any 
moment  in  the  human  body  is  derived  from  the  food 
that  we  eat  and  the  air  that  we  breathe.     As  food  is 

83 


84  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

turned  into  oxygenated  blood  and  assimilated  with 
the  various  tissues  of  the  body,  which  themselves  rep- 
resent previously  assimilated  food,  the  molecular  move- 
ments of  the  food  material  become  variously  combined 
into  molecular  movements  in  tissue, — in  muscular  tissue, 
in  adipose,  in  cellular,  and  in  nerve  tissue,  and  so  on. 
Every  undulation  that  takes  place  among  the  molecules 
of  a  nerve  represents  some  simpler  form  of  molecular 
motion  contained  in  food  that  has  been  assimilated  ; 
and  for  every  given  quantity  of  the  former  kind  of 
motion  that  appears,  an  equivalent  quantity  of  the 
latter  kind  disap])ears  in  produ(^ing  it.  And  so  we  may 
go  on,  keeping  the  account  strictly  balanced,  until  we 
reach  the  peculiar  discharge  of  undulatory  motion  be- 
tween cerebral  ganglia  that  uniforndy  accompanies  a 
feeling  or  state  of  consciousness.  What  now  occurs? 
Along  with  this  peculiar  undulatory  motion  there  occurs 
a  feeling^ — the  primary  element  of  a  thought  or  of  an 
emotion.  But  does  the  motion  produce^  the  feeling 
in  the  same  sense  that  heat  produces  light?  Does  a 
given  quantity  of  motion  disappear,  to  be  replaced  by  an 
equivalent  quantity  of  feeling  f  By  no  means.  The 
nerve-motion  in  disappearing  is  simply  distributed  into 
other  nerve-motions  in  various  parts  of  the  body,  and  then 
other  nerve-motions,  in  their  turn,  become  variously 
metamorphosed  into  motions  of  contraction  in  muscles, 
motions  of  secretion  in  glands,  motions  of  assimilation 
in  tissues  generally,  or  into  yet  t)ther  nerve-motions. 
Nowhere  is  there  such  a  thing  as  the  metamorphosis 
of  motion  into  feeling,  or  of  feeling  into  motion.     Of 


1  Italics  in  the  original,  but  the  other  italics  are  mine. 


THE  NATURE   OF  MIND,  85 

course  I  do  not  mean  that  the  circuit,  as  thus  described, 


has  ever  been  experimentally  traced,  or  that  it  can  be 
experimentally  traced.  What  I  mean  is,  that  if  the  law 
of  the  '  correlation  of  forces'  is  to  be  applied  at  all  to  the 
physical  processes  which  go  on  within  the  living  organ- 
ism, we  are  of  necessity  bound  to  render  our  whole 
account  into  terms  of  motion  that  can  be  quantitatively 
measured.  Once  admit  into  the  circuit  some  element 
— such  as  feeling — that  does  not  allow  of  quantitative 
measurement,  and  the  correlation  can  no  longer  be  es- 
tablished; we  are  landed  at  once  into  absurdity  and 
contradiction.  So  far  as  the  correlation  of  forces  has 
anything  to  do  with  it,  the  entire  circle  of  transmuta- 
tion, from  the  lowest  physico-chemical  motion  all  the 
way  up  to  the  highest  nerve-motion  and  all  the  way 
down  again  to  the  lowest  physico-chemical  motion, 
must  be  described  in  physical  terms,  and  no  account 
whatever  can  be  taken  of  any  such  thing  as  feeling  or 


consciousness.''  ^ 


The  reader  will  immediately  perceive  how  the  idea 
of  feeling,  being  something  more  than  and  in  addition 
to  those  activities  called  motion,  pervades  the  whole 
passage.  This  is  especially  evident  in  those  passages 
indicated  by  italics.  "  Along  with  this  peculiar  un- 
dulatory  motion  there  occurs  a  feeling^ — the  primary 
element  of  a  thought  or  of  an  emotion.^^  "  Does  a  given 
quantity  of  motion  disappear^  to  be  replaced  by  an  equiva- 
lent quantity  of  feeling  f^  The  idea  of  feeling  being 
something  plus  physical  activities  could  hardly  be 
more  plainly  stated.     With  this  false  conception  as  a 

^  North  Am.  Kev.,  loc.  cit. 
8 


86  THE   NATURE   OF  MIND. 

starting-point,  the  conclusion  affirming  the  inapplica- 
bility of  the  correlation  of  forces  naturally  follows. 

After  what  has  been  said  in  the  preceding  chapters, 
the  reader  will,  without  difficulty,  recognize  the  fallacy 
of  this  conception  of  double  processes,  no  matter 
whether  the  second  property  be  looked  upon  as  spirit- 
ual or  physical.  It  leads,  as  was  averred  on  page  25, 
and  as  Mr.  Fiske  has  well  shown,  to  the  destruction 
of  the  universality  of  this  law  of  correlation.  But 
materialism  must  not  be  blamed  for  the  shortcomings 
of  its  interpreters  or  the  misconceptions  of  its  oppo- 
nents. If  it  can  be  shown  that  materialism  cannot  be 
reconciled  with  the  law  of  the  correlation  of  forces, 
materialism  must  fall.  But  this  is  far  from  being  the 
case.  When  Materialism  is  properly  understood  no 
such  difficulty  is  met  with.  Before  consigning  any 
doctrine  to  oblivion,  it  would  be  becoming  in  its  oppo- 
nents to  examine  once  more  their  own  interpretation 
of  that  doctrine,  and  see  if  the  fault  does  not  lie  with 
themselves.  Having  begun  by  misunderstanding  the 
doctrine  of  materialism,  they  naturally  end  by  finding 
fault  with  errors  which  are  of  their  own  making.  They 
should  be  more  careful  not  to  mistake  tlieir  own  blun- 
ders for  those  of  nature. 

But  is  this  statement  just  quoted  respecting  the  in- 
applicability of  the  law  of  the  Correlation  of  Forces  to 
Mind  true  of  that  interpretation  of  materialism  main- 
tained in  these  pages?  Let  us  see.  ^^  Along  with  this 
peculiar  form  of  undulatory  motion  there  occurs  a 
feeling, — the  primary  element  of  a  thought  or  of  an 
emotion.^^  This  is  not  correct.  There  are  not  two 
things  which   occur  simultaneously  in  one  organism. 


THE   NATURE   OF  MIND,  87 

There  occurs  solely  the  Feeling,  and  the  undulatory 
motion  is  only  the  subjective  expression  of  another 
person's  perception  of  this  feeling.  Therefore  it  obvi- 
ously cannot  be  said  that  the  motion  produces  the  feel- 
ing, for  the  two  are  one. 

"  Does  a  given  quantity  of  motion  disappear,  to  be 
replaced  by  an  equivalent  quantity  of  feeling  ?''  If 
the  term  "  motion"  is  here  employed  to  represent  that 
cerebral  motion  which  is  commonly  though  incorrectly 
said  to  accompany  a  feeling,  the  answer  must  be  '^No,'' 
for  the  reason  just  given.  But  if  it  is  used  to  desig- 
nate those  motions  which  occur  in  the  sensory  nerves, 
and  if  we  bear  in  mind  what  we  mean  by  such  motion, 
an  affirmative  answer  may  be  given.  Let  me  explain 
by  an  illustration  what  I  mean.  Let  us  suppose  that 
we  have  been  pricked  in  the  arm  by  a  pin.  As  a  re- 
sult we  have  a  sensation  of  pain,  which  in  turn  causes 
us  to  withdraw  the  arm.  We  have  here  what  is  called 
a  nervous  circuit.  In  the  sensory  nerve  going  to  the 
brain  there  is  excited  some  "  nerve-motion,'^  which  in 
turn  travels  to  the  cerebral  centres,  where  this  motion 
is  exchanged  for  cerebral  motion  in  the  cells  of  the 
brain.  From  hence  it  issues  again  along  the  motor 
nerves  as  nerve-motion,  until  it  finally  reaches  the 
muscles  to  become  muscular  motion.  Here  is  a  dy- 
namic circuit.'  But  where  is  feeling  f  Has  it  entered 
into  it?  Not  at  all;  because  we  have  been  employing 
physical  terms.  We  cannot  change  one  term  of  the  equa- 
tion without  changing  all  the  others  to  correspond,  any 
more  than  we  can  add  quarts  and  pounds  together,  but 
each  must  be  reduced  to  the  same  standard  of  measure- 
ment.    If  we  wish  to  bring  feeling  into  the  circuit,  we 


88  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND. 

must  employ  a  corresponding  set  of  symbols.  It  will 
then  be  expressed  as  follows :  The  molecular  disturb- 
ances in  the  nerves,  designated  by  nerve-motion,  must 
be  represented  by  the  term  ^^  unknown  o?/^  The  dif- 
ficulty is  that  the  ordinary  use  of  language  carries 
with  it  pitfalls  and  dangers,  which  can  only  be  avoided 
by  keeping  constantly  before  the  mind  the  reality 
which  is  represented  by  the  word.  When  we  talk  of 
nerve-motions,  the  most  wary  are  liable  to  be  misled; 
and  even  the  more  general  term  ^^  physical  disturb- 
ance or  activity'^  contains  an  idea  of  something  that 
we  see  or  feel,  and  the  unknown  conditions  for  which 
it  stands  are  lost  sight  of.  In  this  way  terms  of  dif- 
ferent measurement  are  introduced  into  the  equation, 
and  the  real  question  becomes  lost  in  one  of  words. 

It  is  better,  when  dealing  with  ultimates,  as  we  are 
when  we  talk  of  feeling,  to  employ  such  indefinite 
terms  as  x  or  y,  which  have  no  preconceived  notions 
attached  to  them,  instead  of  speaking  of  motions  and 
undulations  which  are  not  ultimates.  Letting  x,  then, 
stand  for  the  unknown  changes  in  the  sensory  nerves, 
and  y  for  those  in  the  motor,  we  can  say  that  unknown 
X  becomes  transformed  into  an  equivalent  amount  of 
consciousness ;  that  consciousness  becomes  again  trans- 
formed into  an  equivalent  amount  of  unknown  y,  and 
with  each  metamorphosis  a  certain  amount  of  the  one 
factor  disappears,  to  be  replaced  by  an  equivalent 
amount  of  the  succeeding  factor.  We  have  here,  then, 
a  circuit  of  ultimates  corresponding  to  and  identical 
with  the  dynamic  nervous  circuit,  and  the  principle  of 
"  correlation  of  forces"  becomes  applicable  to  the  facts 
of  consciousness. 


THE   NATURE   OF  MIND.  89 

But  is  it  necessary  that  we  should  use  these  indefi- 
nite expressions  in  order  that  this  law  of  correlation 
may  be  applied  to  the  subjective  world  ?  I  think  not,  if, 
as  I  have  said  so  many  times  before,  w^e  are  careful  not 
to  mistake  the  symbol  for  the  reality  symbolized.  AVe 
can  say  that  in  traversing  the  nervous  circuit  the  nerve- 
motion  in  the  sensory  nerves  becomes  transformed  into 
an  equivalent  amount  of  cerebral  motion,  or  conscious- 
ness, which  in  turn  disappears  to  become  nerve-motion 
again.  But  now  we  must  remember  that  "cerebral 
motion^^  and  consciousness  are  one  and  the  same  thing. 
Only  the  foruier  is  a  symbol  of  the  latter.  Not 
the  gold  and  silver  side  of  an  iron  shield,  but  a  gold 
shield,  one  side  of  which  has  been  silvered.  If  we 
wish  to  measure  these  motions  by  mechanical  apparatus, 
of  course  it  must  be  the  cerebral  motions,  not  conscious- 
ness, which  are  to  be  measured ;  for  mechanical  methods 
can  only  be  applied  to  the  conditions  to  meet  which 
they  were  designed.  I  have  discussed  the  application 
of  this  law  of  the  correlation  of  forces  in  a  very  gen- 
eral way,  referring  only  to  the  principles  underlying  it. 
It  would  take  us  too  far  out  of  our  way  to  consider  all 
the  complex  conditions  entering  into  the  equation  of 
its  application, — what  amount  of  "  nerve-motion,'^  for 
example,  in  a  sensory  nerve  passes  into  other  nerve- 
motions  in  outgoing  nerves  without  the  intervention 
of  consciousness ;  how  much  becomes  transformed  into 
couvsciousness ;  how  much  finds  its  equivalent  in  dis- 
turbances in  the  sympathetic  system  and  in  nutritive 
tissue  change;  and,  finally,  how  much  consciousness 
is  balanced  by  the  previous  molecular  action  of  the 
food  storing  up,  so  to  speak,  mind-force  in  the  cells  of 

8* 


90  THE  NATURE   OF  MIND, 

the  brain,  ready  to  be  discharged  like  a  mine  of  gun- 
powder on  lighting  the  fuse.  These  questions  physiol- 
ogy is  not  sufficiently  developed  to  answer  at  present. 

If  the  distinctions  dwelt  upon  above  are  borne  in 
mind,  the  difficulty  ceases  to  be  one  of  mere  words, 
and  one  of  the  strongest  objections  to  the  materialistic 
doctrine  of  mind  is  avoided.  We  see  how  movement 
may  be  the  cause  of  thought,  and  thought  of  movement. 
The  assertion  of  Lange/  that  '^were  it  possible  for 
a  single  cerebral  atom  to  be  moved  by  '  thought' 
so  much  as  the  millionth  of  a  millimetre  out  of  the 
path  due  to  it  by  the  laws  of  mechanics,  the  whole 
^formula  of  the  universe'  would  become  inapplicable 
and  senseless/'  can  only  be  maintained  on  the  assump- 
tion that  mind  is  something  more  than  matter,  a  spiritual 
entity. 

Thought  can  move  an  atom,  for  it  can  move  the  un- 
known ultimate  which  is  the  basis  of  that  group  of 
phenomena  we  call  an  atom.  But  to  insist  upon  this 
precision  of  statement  is  a  mere  quibble  over  words, 
though  the  superficial  criticisms  of  Lange^  may  some- 
times render  it  necessary. 
^ ^_ 

1  History  of  Materialism. 

2  lbi(i.j  vol.  iii.  p.  9. 


PART   II. 

HUMAIsT  AUTOMATISM. 

**  Wherefore,  as  men  owe  all  their  true  ratiocination  in  the 
right  understanding  of  speech,  so  also  they  owe  their  errors  to 
the  misunderstanding  of  the  same  ;  and  as  all  the  ornaments  of 
philosophy  proceed  only  from  men,  so  from  man  also  is  derived 
the  ugly  absurdity  of  false  opinions.  For  speech  has  something 
in  it  like  to  a  spider's  web  (as  it  was  said  of  old  of  Solon's  laws), 
for  by  contexture  of  words  tender  and  delicate  wits  are  ensnared 
and  stopped,  but  strong  wits  break  easily  through  them." 

HOBBES. 


91 


CHAPTER    I. 

THE   KEFLEX   CHAKACTEK   OF   IDEAS. 

Having  thus  far  been  occupied  with  the  considera- 
tion of  the  nature  of  mind,  we  are  now  prepared  to 
enter  upon  the  second  part  of  our  subject,  or  Human 
Automatism.  But  as  what  will  follow  consists  only 
of  deductions  from  the  principles  laid  down  in  the 
preceding  chapters,  it  was  absolutely  essential  that  we 
should  first  see  that  these  principles  were  well  estab- 
lished and  clearly  understood.  It  is  to  be  hoped  that  this 
has  been  done,  and  that  that  interpretation  of  material- 
ism has  been  given  which  is  both  consistent  with  the 
facts  and  affords  a  complete  explanation  of  the  mystery 
of  consciousness.  It  is  because  proper  pains  have  not 
always  been  taken  to  establish  the  correctness  of  the 
first  principles,  that  such  extraordinary  and  indefensible 
deductions  have  sometimes  been  drawn. 

We  have  seen  how  consciousness  is  nothing  more 
than  the  reality  of  those  physical  processes  we  call  un- 
dulations, and  that  the  latter  are  only  the  means  by 
which  consciousness  becomes  known  to  us  when  appre- 
hended by  a  second  person  through  the  senses, — in  fact, 
the  symbols  of  consciousness. 

But  this  doctrine  involves  logical  consequences  from 
which  there  can  be  no  escape,  and  which  we  cannot 
avoid  considering. 

93 


94  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

As  physical  processes  are  symbols  and  equivalents  of 
consciousness^  we  can,  through  the  physical  method,  let 
them  stand  for  mental  processes,  study  them  as  such 
equivalents,  and  investigate  the  conditions  under  which 
they  arise.  Afterwards  we  can  translate  the  results 
into  terms  of  consciousness. 

Now  that  matter,  of  which  consciousness  is  the  re- 
ality, must  be  subject  to  the  laws  which  govern  matter. 
One  of  these  laws  is  the  law  of  inertia.  According  to 
this,  matter  cannot  of  itself  change  its  own  state.  Mat- 
ter at  rest  must  forever  remain  at  rest,  unless  some- 
thing outside  of  itself  disturbs  it  and  puts  it  in  motion. 
Matter  in  motion  must  forever  persist  in  motion  till 
something  outside  of  it  checks  it.  Matter  exhibited 
under  one  property  must  forever  be  exhibited  under 
that  property,  unless  some  external  force  causes  it  to 
be  exhibited  under  another.  Whatever  be  the  state  of 
matter  at  a  given  moment,  it  must  always  remain  in 
that  state  till  outside  agencies  effect  a  change.  This 
is  a  universal  law ;  it  has  no  exception.  To  this  law, 
then,  the  '^  matter  of  the  mind'^  must  be  subject.  Let 
us  apply  it  and  see  what  it  means.  It  means  this:  that 
no  change  of  any  kind,  chemical  or  physical,  can  occur 
in  ^the  protoplasm  of  the  brain  without  the  interference 
of  outside  agencies;  that  no  vibration  or  pulsation  can 
occur  among  the  protoplasmic  molecules  of  any  cell 
unless  some  cause  external  to  that  cell  acts  upon  them; 
that  for  the  undulations  of  the  molecules — of  which 
consciousness  is  the  reality — to  occur,  some  external 
force  is  requisite  to  start  them  into  activity;  in  other 
words,  for  consciousness  to  be  present  it  is  necessary 
that  each  cell  should  be  stimulated  by  something  exter- 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.     *  95 

nal  to  that  eell.^  The  activity  of  the  molecules  of  no 
cell  can  appear  spontaneously,  and  hence  neither  can 
the  reality  of  that  activity,  or  consciousness.  Conscious- 
ness, then,  is  passive,  not  active;  it  is  conditioned  exist- 
ence, not  unconditioned;  it  is  a  link  in  a  series  of 
events. 

Such  is  the  inevitable  result  to  which  our  reasoning 
leads  us.  If  consciousness  depends  on  matter  being 
disturbed,  it  must  be  passive.  This  is  a  logical  conse- 
quence of  our  premises,  from  which  there  is  no  escape. 
But  if  our  thouglits  are  passive, — if  they  are  merely 
the  molecular  disturbances  in  themselves  and  cannot 
arise  spontaneously, — it  must  be  that  the  stimulus  re- 
quired for  their  production  cannot  be  applied  in  any 
indefinite  manner  at  haphazard,  but  only  through  the 
anatomical  mechanism  of  the  brain, — only  through  the 
nerve-conductors  developed  for  the  purpose.  The 
channels  by  which  stimuli  from  without  reach  the  cells 
of  the  brain  are  the  centripetal  nerves;  and  any  succession 
of  ideas  can  only  occur  by  reason  of  the  neural  ^^  cur- 

1  Objection  may  be  made  to  this  on  the  ground  that,  conscious- 
ness being  the  reality,  the  laws  which  govern  phenomena  cannot 
be  applied  to  it.  But  I  have  already  shown  (Chapter  Y.)  that  by 
a  change  of  all  the  terms  in  the  series  the  law  of  correlation  of 
forces  may  be  extended  to  mental  processes.  Furthermore,  the 
physical  process  being  the  equivalent  and  symbol  of  the  mental 
process,  we  can  substitute  the  one  for  the  other;  and  having 
worked  out  the  problem,  retranslate  the  results  back  again  into 
the  original  terms.  It  is  not  possible  to  conceive  of  the  neural 
vibrations  being  absent  or  present  without  its  reality,  conscious- 
ness, being  similarly  absent  or  present;  and  anything  which, 
from  a  physical  point  of  view,  causes  the  occurrence  of  the 
vibrations  must,  from  a  psychological  point  of  view,  have  an 
equivalent  result  in  consciousness. 


96  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

rents/^  wherever  originated,  being  reflected  from  one 
cell  to  another  along  the  anatomical  connections  which 
join  the  cells;  and  any  objective  expression  of  an  idea 
can  only  take  place  by  reason  of  the  current  passing 
again  from  the  brain  to  the  organs  of  expression,  which 
are  the  muscles.  In  other  words,  under  normal  con- 
ditions, every  muscular  action,  every  idea,  sensation,  or 
emotion  requires  for  its  production  some  stimulus  origi- 
nating outside  of  its  own  nervous  centre, — that  is,  it  is 
reflex} 

I  think  it  is  possible  to  show,  by  reference  to  the 
facts  of  physiology  and  pathology,  that  from  the  sim- 
plest muscular  act,  such  as  the  winking  of  the  eyelid, 
to  the  most  complex  muscular  actions  and  trains  of 
thought,  there  is  never  a  difference  in  kind,  only  one  of 
degree ;  that  we  can  pass  from  one  to  the  other  by  a 
series  of  gradations,  step  by  step,  and  find  them  all  of 
the  same  nature,  reflex  in  character. 

There  is  one  objection  to  this  conclusion  respecting 
the  reflex  character  of  ideas  which,  at  first  sight,  ap- 
pears plausible,  but  yet,  whatever  validity  it  may  have, 
does  essentially  affect  the  principle  of  the  hypothesis. 
It  may  be  urged  (and,  from  a  philosophical  point  of 
view,  correctly)  that,  even  if  the  physical  process  in  the 
brain  be  a  reflex  one,  this  term,  which  derives  its  mean- 
ing from  physical  conditions,  cannot  be  applied  to  de- 

^  There  is  one  probable  exception  to  this,  and  that  is  when 
ideas  under  abnormal  conditions  are  caused  by  direct  irritation  of 
the  blood,  as  in  delirium,  or  by  foreign  substances,  as  opium.  But 
in  this  case  the  ideas  are  still  passive,  and  it  is  probable  that  only 
some  of  these  ideas  are  due  to  direct  irritation  and  the  remainder 
are  reflected,  as  shown  by  the  association  of  allied  ideas. 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM,  97 

note  the  character  of  psychical  facts.    When  we  say,  for 
instance,  that  certain  nervous  processes  are  reflex,  we 
mean  that  the  neural  current  passes  along  certain  in- 
going nerves  to  certain  groups  of  neural  cells  in  the 
brain ;  that  then  the  current,  after  having  started  cer- 
tain reactions  in  the  molecules  of  the  cells,  is  reflected 
from  cell  to  cell,  a  similar  effect  being  produced  in  each; 
and,  finally,  that  the  current  is  reflected  outwards  along 
certain  outgoing  paths  to  the  muscles,  to  end  in  action 
of  some  kind.     We  can  even  form  a  picture  in  the 
mind  of  all  this,  and  perhaps  graphically  represent  it 
on  paper.     But  no  such  picture  can  be  drawn  to  illus- 
trate the  relation  of  the  psychical  facts,  the  ideas,  which 
are  the  reality  and  correspond  to  this  process.     We 
can  see  that  one  idea  is  invariably  associated  with  an- 
other idea ;  that  one  follows  another  according  to  cer- 
tain laws  of  thought,  which  we  can  formulate  from  our 
former  experience.     But  this  association  is  nothing  like 
the  picture  we  formed  of  the  reflex  physical  process. 
All  this  is  undoubtedly  true,  but  nevertheless  it  cannot 
be  regarded  as  a  fatal  objection  to  the  hypothesis  ad- 
vanced, nor  as  irreconcilable  with  all  the  facts.     Ideas 
are  the  reality  of  the  physical  process,  and  though  they 
cannot,  by  a  strict  use  of  terms,  be  said  to  be  reflex, 
still  the  relations  between  them  are  of  a  nature  that 
correspond  to  the  reflex  physical  process ;  so  that  ideas 
in  some  way,  which  possibly  cannot  be  translated  into 
thought,  are  bound  together  in  a  fashion  which  has  its 
counterpart  in  the  reflected  neural  current  and  cellular 
commotions.     The  reality  of  the  cellular  commotions 
are  ideas,  and  the  reflected  physical  process  is  the  man- 
ner in  which  these  realities  are  recognized  by  us  when 


98  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

apprehended  through  the  senses.  This  use  of  physical 
terms  to  describe  subjective  conditions  need  not  be  fal- 
lacious or  regarded  as  unphilosophical  if  we  only  have 
in  mind  the  conditions  for  which  the  terms  stand.^ 

1  See  also  note  to  page  96. 


CHAPTER  II. 

CONSCIOUSNESS  AS  AN  AGENT  IN  THE   DETERMI- 
NATION OF  BODILY  ACTION. 

The  outcome  of  our  inquiry  thus  far  has  resulted 
in  a  theory  which  both  explains  the  ''  relationship  of 
the  mind  to  the  body/^  and  also  the  mechanism  by  which 
mental  action  takes  place.  This  theory  at  once  satis- 
fies all  the  conditions  of  the  case^  and  explains  the 
mysteries  which  have  so  long  hung  about  the  problem. 
We  have  seen  how  the  very  question^  "  How  is  the 
mind  related  to  matter?'^  involves  erroneous  assump- 
tions regarding  the  nature  of  each,  which  make  the 
question  itself  an  absurd  one.  In  the  reflex  theory  of 
ideas  we  find  a  mechanism  by  which  the  human  mind 
carries  on  all  its  manifold  operations,  from  the  sim- 
plest mental  act,  like  the  sudden  start  of  the  body 
at  the  sound  of  a  cannon,  to  the  most  complex  train 
of  thought.  In  passing  from  the  more  simple  to  the 
more  complex  the  paths  of  thought  become  more  cir- 
cuitous and  more  complicated,  but  the  process  does  not 
change.  The  difference  is  in  degree,  not  in  kind.  On 
the  physical  side  the  current  is  reflected  from  cell  to 
cell  till  it  finally  ends  in  the  outgoing  current  which 
terminates  in  muscular  action ;  and  on  the  mental  side, 
each  thought,  which  is  the  reality  of  the  physical  process, 
is  attached,  so  to  speak,  in  some  unknown  way  to  each 
succeeding  thought  in  such  a  manner  that  one  necessa- 

99 


100  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

rily  ensues  upon  the  other,  according  to  certain  psycho- 
logical laws.  Every  idea  calls  up  the  particular  idea 
which  is  associated  with  it  in  the  same  chain  of  ideas, 
to  end  finally,  also,  in  muscular  action  ;  though,  as  each 
chain  is  linked  with  hundreds  of  other  chains  which 
cross  its  paths,  fresh  stimuli  may  switch  the  current  of 
ideas  along  these  connecting  chains  into  fresh  circuits. 

To  this  reflex  view  there  are  logical  consequences  from 
which  I  see  no  escape.  From  the  theory  that  a  mental 
process  is  the  reality  of  the  reflex  physiological  process 
to  the  doctrine  of  automatism  is  a  step  which  we  are 
compelled  by  the  force  of  logical  necessity  to  take,  or 
rather,  the  two  doctrines  are  essentially  the  same.  For 
any  doctrine  which  removes  our  thoughts  from  the 
control  of  a  hypothetical  agent  which  is  independent 
of  external  influences,  and  confines  them  to  certain 
channels  in  which  they  are  propelled,  directly  or  indi- 
rectly, by  stimuli  (external  or  internal)  is  practically 
automatism.  Under  the  reflex  view,  spontaneity,  in  the 
sense  that  any  idea  or  state  of  mind  can  arise  except  as 
the  resultant  of  some  other  idea  by  which  it  is  condi- 
tioned, is  impossible.  Reflex  is,  consequently,  equiva- 
lent to  automatic. 

On  the  other  hand,  the  automatism  which  we  are 
compelled  to  adopt  is  modified  in  a  most  important 
particular  by  the  discovery  of  the  relation  which  mind 
bears  to  matter.  By  this  modification  the  principal 
objection  to  automatism  is  removed.  As  we  have 
already  seen  (Chapter  I.),  and  as  we  shall  presently  see 
more  fully,  some  automatists,  from  a  failure  to  take  into 
account  the  testimony  of  direct  consciousness,  have 
given  expression  to  a  theory  according  to  which  all 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  \Q\ 

our  actions  are  accomplished  by  the  physiological  mech- 
anism of  the  brain,  without  being  influenced  in  any 
way  by  volition  or  feeling.  These  latter  are  limited 
to  the  part  of  indicators  to  tell  how  the  physical  ma- 
chinery beneath  is  working,  nothing  more.  Any  such 
notion  of  automatism  can  only  arise  from  an  ill- 
digested  consideration  of  the  facts  and  a  total  miscon- 
ception of  the  problem  in  question.  Now,  on  the  con- 
trary, the  form  of  automatism  which  is  the  outcome  of 
the  reflex  theory  we  have  formed  takes  into  account 
the  testimony  offered  directly  by  consciousness,  and 
recognizes  fully  the  part  played  by  volition  in  acting 
on  the  bodily  mechanism  and  determining  our  actions. 
The  great  merit  of  the  doctrine  of  the  nature  of  mind 
which  has  been  adopted  in  these  pages  is  that  it  har- 
monizes our  subjective  and  objective  knowledge,  and 
not  only  allows  to  consciousness  the  power  of  acting 
on  the  molecules  of  matter,  but  renders  intelligible 
how  it  acts.  Consciousness  is  as  much  an  agent  in 
determining  physical  action  as  molecular  motion  is, — 
nay,  it  is  more. 

That  I  do  this  or  that  because  I  feel  so  and  so  is  a 
psychological  fact  beyond  dispute.  No  amount  of 
reasoning  can  argue  me  out  of  the  belief  that  I  drink 
this  water  because  I  am  thirsty.  But  this  is  only  stating 
the  problem  in  other  terms, — in  psychological  instead 
of  physiological  terms, — and  does  not  in  any  way  con- 
tradict our  hypothesis.  We  can  indifferently  say  that 
any  action  is  dependent  upon  the  organic  connection 
of  the  nervous  elements,  or  say  it  is  dependent  upon 
our  feelings.  It  must  be  remembered  that  a  subjective 
process  and  a  neural  disturbance  are,  at  bottom,  one 


102  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

and  the  same  things  and  either  may  be  said  to  be  the 
cause  of  the  ensuing  action,  if  we  bear  in  mind  the 
terms  in  which  the  fact  is  expressed.  But  in  one  sense 
it  is  more  correct  to  speak  in  terms  of  feeling  and 
thought  than  in  those  of  matter.  Ideas,  sensations, 
etc.,  are  the  ultimates,  the  final  terms  to  which  phe- 
nomena can  be  reduced.  They  are  actualities,  and 
well  known  to  us,  while  physical  undulations,  etc.,  are 
not,  being  merely  phenomena.  Hence  it  is  more  cor- 
rect to  use  psychological  terms,  in  speaking  of  mental 
^^  phenomena,^^  than  physical  terms. 

It  was  shown  in  a  preceding  chapter  how,  from  a 
misunderstanding  of  the  real  relation  between  mind 
and  physical  changes, — how,  from  the  conception  of 
consciousness  being  something  in  addition  to  neural 
undulations, — the  conclusion  naturally  follows  that,  as 
muscular  action  was  only  in  direct  connection  with  the 
physical  changes  of  the  brain,  consciousness,  which  was 
something  more  and  outside  the  former,  could  have 
nothing  to  do  with  the  production  of  our  actions,  and 
must  be  merely  a  collateral  product.  This  conclusion 
followed  logically  from  the  premises,  but  was  also 
drawn  unwarrantably  from  certain  experiments  on 
animals.  The  bearing  of  these  experiments  upon  the 
point  at  issue  will  be  discussed  presently.  We  are  now 
considering  this  conclusion  as  a  logical  deduction  from 
the  premises  referred  to.  The  adversaries  of  the  mod- 
ern doctrine,  as  well  as  its  disciples,  were  not  slow  to 
point  out  that  it  is  a  psychological /ac^  that  our  feelings 
are  the  cause  of  our  actions, — that  when  we  rub  a  spot 
where  we  have  been  bitten  by  a  mosquito,  we  do  it 
because  we  feel  uncomfortably  at  that  spot.     This  is  a 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM,  103 

fact  which  every  one  can  verify  as  often  as  he  pleases. 
This  being  so,  the  logical  inference  which  should  be 
drawn  is  that  there  is  some  fallacy  in  the  premises. 
Bat  the  opponents  went  further^  and  inferred  that  if 
our  feelings  are  the  cause  of  our  actions,  then  we  can- 
not be  automata.  This  is  an  unjustifiable  inference 
because  there  is  no  evidence  that  one  excludes  the 
other.  It  has  been  thought  that  we  could  only  be 
automata  on  the  supposition  that  our  feelings  were 
collateral  products.  Now,  on  the  contrary,  I  main- 
tain ;  first^  that  our  feelings  are  not  collateral  products; 
second,  that  they  are  the  active  agents;  and,  third,  that 
nevertheless  we  are  automata. 

This  conception  that  feeling  as  agent  necessarily  ex- 
cludes automatism  is  expressed  by  G.  H.  Lewes  in  the 
following  paragraph : 

"  The  question  of  automatism,  which  has  been  argued 
in  the  preceding  chapters,  may,  I  think,  be  summarily 
disposed  of  by  a  reference  to  the  irresistible  evidence 
each  man  carries  in  his  own  consciousness  that  his 
actions  are  frequently,  even  if  not  always,  determined 
by  feelings.  He  is  quite  certain  that  he  is  not  an 
automaton,  and  that  his  feelings  are  not  simply  collat- 
eral products  of  his  actions,  without  the  power  of 
modifying  and  originating  them.^^ 

Now  in  this  passage  there  is  really  contained  a 
syllogism  which  may  be  expressed  as  follows : 

"  If  Feeling  determines  action,  and  is  not  a  collateral 
product,  we  are  not  automata.  Consciousness  proves 
that  Feeling  does  determine  action;  ergo,  we  are  not 
automata.^^ 

Now  the  point   maintained   here  is,  that  the  first 


104  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

premise  is  incorrect;  hence  the  conclusion  is  invalid. 
Feeling  may  be  the  cause  of  physical  action^  and  the 
whole  be  still  automatic. 

If  our  hypothesis  regarding  the  nature  of  the  mind 
be  the  correct  one,  and  feeling  and  physical  changes 
be  practically  the  same  thing,  it  follows  that  one  is  as 
much  the  cause  of  physical  actions  as  the  other,  and 
one  is  as  automatic  as  the  other. 

It  is  proper  to  state  that  these  are  not  the  main 
reasons  which  Mr.  Lewes  gives  for  rejecting  the 
theory  of  automatism.  On  the  contrary,  a  large  por- 
tion of  his  work  is  devoted  to  an  elaborate  exposition 
of  his  views  on  this  question.  It  would  carry  us  too 
far  out  of  the  way  to  enter  into  an  examination  of 
them,  involving  as  they  do  questions  which  are  far 
beyond  the  limits  set  for  this  work.  Suffice  it  to  say 
that  Mr.  Lewes  devotes  considerable  space  to  a  discus- 
sion of  the  functions  of  automata,  and  to  the  question 
whether  unconscious  and  reflex  actions  are  governed  by 
Sensibility.  Finding  that  automata  have  not  Sensi- 
bility, and  also  holding  that  all  our  actions,  those  that 
are  conscious  and  unconscious,  as  well  as  those  ordi- 
narily called  reflex,  are  governed  by  Sensibility,  he 
concludes  that  the  human  organism  is  not  an  automaton. 
We  cannot  enter  into  the  question  as  to  how  far  sensi- 
bility enters  into  so-called  unconscious  actions,  as  it  is 
not  essential  to  our  argument.  From  our  point  of 
view  it  makes  no  difference  whether  the  so-called 
unconscious  actions  are  guided  by  Sensibility  or  not ; 
in  either  case  our  answer  w^ould  be  the  same.  I  am 
ready,  however,  to  follow  Mr.  Lewes  some  distance, 
and  allow  sensibility  to  many  "  unconscious^^  actions. 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  105 

As^  for  instance,  when  walking  through  the  crowded 
streets  we  avoid  the  passers-by  though  our  thoughts 
are  deeply  intent  on  something  else.  We  certainly 
have  the  optical  sensations  of  the  passing  crowd,  and 
are  guided  by  them,  though  at  the  time  we  are  un- 
conscious of  the  sensations.  On  the  other  hand,  there 
are  many  reflex  actions  to  which  no  subjective  quality 
can  be  attached,  and  which  cannot  be  governed  by  any- 
thing of  the  nature  of  sensibility,  unless  by  sensibility 
is  merely  meant  a  neural  reaction  as  opposed  to  other 
physical  reactions,  in  which  case  the  question  becomes 
one  only  of  terms. 

Even  if  conscious  and  unconscious  actions  be  gov- 
erned by  Sensibility,  they  may  still  be  automatic.  To 
be  sure,  a  sentient  action  is  not  in  one  sense  of  the  term 
a  mechanical  one,  for  no  mechanical  toy  has  conscious- 
ness or  sensibility  of  any  kind.  If  it  be  maintained 
that  nothing  is  automatic  which  has  consciousness  and 
is  worked  by  sensations,  then  we  are  not  on  this  defi- 
nition automata.  But  this  limitation  of  the  word 
automatism  is  not  in  my  opinion  essential. 

When  it  is  said  that  mental  processes  are  automatic, 
I  do  not  conceive  that  it  is  necessarily  meant  that  we 
are  identical  with  or  like  machines  in  every  particular. 
For  instance,  human  beings  grow  and  generate  other 
human  beings,  functions  not  possessed  by  machines. 
When  it  is  said  that  we  are  automata,  or  that  our  men- 
til  processes  are  automatic,  I  understand  that  all  that 
is  meant  is  that  our  thoughts,  sensations,  volitions,  and 
actions  follow  in  certain  grooves  or  channels  which 
have  their  analogies  and  equivalents  in  the  anatomical 
mechanism  of  the  brain,  and  that  the  presence  of  every 


106  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

state  of  mind  is  conditioned  by  the  anatomical  struc- 
ture and  physiological  working  of  the  brain.  Automa- 
tism is  then  synonymous  with  reflex  action.^  The 
theory  of  automatism  is  antithetical  to  the  spiritual 
doctrine  which  postulates  a  central  unconditioned  Ego 
holding  undisputed  sway  over  our  actions. 

^'  But/^  says  Mr.  Lewes^  "  it  [organized  experience] 
cannot  be  made  to  enter  into  the  mechanism  of  an  au- 
tomaton^ because^  however  complex  that  mechanism 
may  be^  and  however  capable  of  variety  of  action^  it 
is  constructed  solely  for  definite  actions  on  calculated 
lines;  all  its  readjustments  must  have  been  foreseen, 
it  is  incapable  of  adjusting  itself  to  unforeseen  circum- 
stances. Hence  every  interruption  in  the  prearranged 
order  either  throsvs  it  out  of  gear,  or  brings  it  to  a 
standstill.  It  is  regulated,  not  self-regulating.  The 
organism,  on  the  contrary, — conspicuously  so  in  its  more 
complex  forms, — is  variable,  self-regulating,  incalcu- 
lable. It  has  selective  adaptation  responding  readily 
and  efficiently  to  novel  and  unforeseen  circumstances, 
acquiring  new  modes  of  combination  and  reaction. 
An  automaton  that  will  learn  by  experience,  and  adapt 
itself  to  conditions  not  calculated  for  in  its  construction, 
has  yet  to  be  made ;  till  it  is  made  we  must  deny  that 
organisms  are  machines.'^  ^  Using  the  same  method  of 
reasoning  we  may  answer,  such  a  machine  has  been 
made,  not  by  man,  it  is  true,  but  by  nature.  In  the 
human  organism  we  find  such  an  automaton  made  by 
natural  forces. 


1  Mr.  Lewes  admits  that  all  mental  action  is  reflex. 

2  Physical  Basis  of  Mind,  p.  433. 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  JQ? 

The  part  which  feeling  plays  in  our  action  is  a  point 
of  great  importance^  and  it  seems  to  me  that  it  is  from 
a  failure  to  thoroughly  grasp  it  that  many  materialists 
have  been  led  into  error  and  have  laid  themselves  open 
to  criticism.  And,  if  I  am  right,  even  such  an  acute 
thinker  as  Professor  Huxley  seems  to  have  become  in- 
volved in  this  fallacy.  "The  consciousness  of  brutes/^ 
he  says,  "would  appear  to  be  related  to  the  mechanism 
of  their  body  simply  as  a  collateral  product  of  its  work- 
ing, and  to  be  as  completely  without  the  power  of  modi- 
fying that  working  as  the  steam  whistle,  which  accom- 
panies the  work  of  a  locomotive  engine,  is  without 
influence  upon  its  machinery.'^  Their  volition,  if  they 
have  any,  is  an  emotion  indicative  of  physical  changes, 
not  a  cause  of  such  changes.^ 

Again,  "It  seems  to  me  that  in  men  as  in  brutes 
there  is  no  proof  that  any  state  of  consciousness  is  the 
cause  of  change  in  the  motion  of  matter  of  the  organ- 
ism. If  these  positions  are  well  based,  it  follows  that 
our  mutual  conditions  are  siaiply  the  symbols  in  con- 
sciousness of  the  changes  which  take  place  automatic- 
ally in  the  organism :  and  that  to  take  an  extreme 
illustration,  the  feeling  we  call  volition  is  not  the  cause 
of  a  voluntary  act,  but  the  symbol  of  that  state  of  the 
brain  which  is  the  immediate  cause  of  that  act.^^  ^ 

I  must  be  pardoned  if  I  dissent  from  so  distinguished 
a  writer.  I  cannot  agree  with  the  statement  "that 
consciousness^  is  related  to  the  mechanical  working  of 
the  body  simply  as  a  collateral  product  of  its  working  ;'^ 
nor  can  I  admit  the  slightest  analogy  between  it  and 

1  Fortnightly  Eeview,  November,  1874.  2  j\^i^^ 


108  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

the  steam  whistle  of  a  locomotive.  It  seems  to  me,  if 
the  theory  of  consciousness  which  has  been  adopted  in 
these  pages  be  the  correct  one,  that  consciousness  has 
the  greatest  power  of  modifying  the  working  of  the 
body.  That  I  rub  my  arm  because  I  have  pain  there, 
and  because  I  have  in  my  mind  an  idea  that  I  shall 
relieve  that  pain  if  I  rub  it,  seems  to  me  to  be  an 
incontrovertible  fact.  You  may  employ  the  physio- 
logical method,  if  you  please,  and  by  using  an  artifice 
state  the  fact  in  physical  terms  instead  of  psychological. 
You  may  then  say  that  the  muscular  action  requisite 
for  the  act  of  rubbing  is  the  consequence  of  molecular 
disturbances  in  the  brain.  This  is  absolutely  true. 
But  these  so-called  molecular  disturbances  are  in  reality 
consciousness,  and  hence  consciousness  is  just  as  much 
the  cause  of  the  ''  working  of  the  body'^  as  these  mo- 
lecular disturbances.  Any  other  conception  than  this 
involves  a  paradox. 

I  am  unable  to  quite  understand  how  it  can  be  said 
that  '^  our  mental  conditions  are  simply  the  symbols  in 
consciousness  of  the  changes  which  take  place  automatic- 
ally in  the  organism,^^  if  that  idea  of  the  nature  of 
consciousness  which  I  have  endeavored  to  make  intelli- 
gible in  the  preceding  pages  is  clearly  borne  in  mind. 

There  are  only  two  hypotheses  respecting  the  nature 
of  consciousness  which  are  compatible  with  this  notion 
of  its  being  a  ^^  collateral  product,^^  and  neither  of  these 
can  be  logically  established.  First,  it  may  be  supposed 
that  consciousness  is  a  distinct  entity  existing  beyond 
the  physiological  changes  in  the  brain.  That  when  an 
idea  is  present,  there  are  brought  into  existence  two 
things, — that  which  we   call    a  physical    change  plus 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM,  109 

something  more^  an  idea^  and  this  idea  is  something 
produced  or  secreted.  I  have  already  shown  that  this 
is  impossible;  that  if  it  were  the  case  this  idea,  the 
second  entity^  must  be  either  material  or  immaterial, 
neither  of  which  conditions  are  within  the  bounds  of 
probabilities.  If  my  reasoning  be  not  false,  conscious- 
ness is  nothing  more  than  the  reality  of  these  physical 
changes.  When  the  brain  is  irritated  we  have  feeling 
as  a  result,  while  physical  changes  are  only  the  mode 
by  which  another  person  ideally  perceives  it. 

The  second  hypothesis  offers  the  most  legitimate 
interpretation  of  the  doctrine  we  are  considering,  and 
it  is  the  one  which  I  believe  is  in  harmony  with  Pro- 
fessor Huxley's  views.  I  do  not  wish  to  misrepresent 
him,  but  I  am  unable  to  discover  in  his  expressed 
opinions  any  other  meaning  which  is  logically  compati- 
ble with  the  view  of  ^^our  mental  conditions  being 
only  symbols  in  consciousness/'  etc. 

According  to  this  second  hypothesis  feeling  is  a 
^^ property''  or  "function  of  matter/'  but  it  must  be  a 
second  function  which  has  an  existence  in  addition  to 
and  parallel  with  that  function  we  call  physical  change. 
Whenever  physical  change  occurs,  then  the  function  of 
consciousness  appears  side  by  side  with  it.  This  view 
has  already  been  discussed  in  Chapter  L,  and  reasons 
given  to  show  its  want  of  validity.  It  has  been  shown 
that  there  is  nothing  in  the  second  function  which  can- 
not be  as  well  explained  through  the  first  (physical 
change) ;  it  is  not  applicable  to  the  law  of  the  correla- 
tio:i  of  forces;  it  leads  to  the  denial  of  feeling  being  an 
a'tive  agent  in  the  production  of  our  actions.  Any 
such  conclusion  as  this  last  must  be  an  absurdity  on  the 

10 


110  HUMAN  AVTOMATISM. 

face  of  it.  The  objectioDs  urged  by  Dr.  Carpenter  and 
Mr.  Martineau  ^  are  well  founded,  namely,  that  it  ren- 
ders consciousness  superfluous,  and  it  would  necessarily 
follow  that  all  our  acts  and  doings,  both  mental  and 
physical,  the  greatest  works  of  poets,  the  paintings  of 
artists,  and  the  labors  of  statesmen  could  be  as  well  per- 
formed without  consciousness  as  with  it.  This  reduces 
such  a  conception  to  a  paradox  and  absurdity. 

This  opinion,  to  which  Professor  Huxley  has  given 
expression,  was  apparently  based  on  some  well-known 
experiments  on  animals,  and  soon  aroused  considerable 
opposition  and  discussion.  It  has  not  appeared  that 
the  results  of  these  experiments  would  warrant  any 
such  inference  being  drawn  from  them.  But  as  what- 
ever is  said  or  written  by  this  distinguished  scientist 
has  necessarily  very  great  weight,  and  as  these  expres- 
sions in  particular  attracted  much  attention,  I  do  not 
think  it  will  be  considered  superfluous  to  take  the  time 
to  consider  the  bearing  which  these  experiments  above 
referred  to  have  on  the  question  at  issue.  They,  together 
with  the  phenomena  of  hypnotism,  somnambulism,  and 
kindred  states,  have  thrown  more  light  on  the  problems 
of  consciousness  than  all  other  discoveries  in  nervous 
physiology. 

A  frog,  from  which  the  cerebral  hemispheres  have  been 
removed,  that  is  to  say,  that  portion  of  the  brain  which  is 
concerned  with  intelligence,  volition,  and  the  other  higher 
faculties,  is  still  capable  of  executing  all  the  movements 
natural  to  it,  under  certain  conditions.  If  such  a  frog, 
for  example,  be  placed  on  the  palm  of  the  hand,  and  the 

^  Modern  Materialism,  by  Kev.  James  Martineau. 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM,  \\\ 

hand  then  gently  turned,  the  frog  w  11  crawl  upwards 
on  the  palm  till  it  reaches  the  edge,  and  then  as  the 
hand  is  still  turned,  it  will  crawl  over  upon  the  back 
of  the  hand,  when  this  becomes  uppermost,  where  it 
will  remain  quietly  at  rest  if  the  hand  is  held  in 
this  horizontal  position.  If  the  hand  be  again  slowly 
turned  back  to  its  original  position,  the  frog  will  reverse 
the  process  till  it  reaches  the  palm  where  it  was  first 
placed.  If  again  the  frog  be  thrown  into  the  water,  it 
will  swim  like  a  natural  frog,  but  will  keep  on  swim- 
ming until  exhausted  or  till  it  strikes  an  obstacle,  when 
it  will  stop.  If  it  strikes  a  board,  it  will  crawl  out 
of  the  water  on  to  it.  If  the  creature  be  pinched,  it 
will  hop,  and  if  something  be  placed  in  its  path,  it  will 
jump  one  side  out  of  the  way  and  avoid  it.  If  its 
flanks  be  stroked,  it  will  croak  once  for  each  stroke. 
This  it  w^ill  do  as  regularly  and  without  fail  as  an  en- 
gine will  whistle  when  you  pull  the  steam-valve.  But 
if  the  creature  be  left  alone,  it  will  remain  quiet  for  an 
indefinite  period  and  make  no  effort  to  eat  or  move. 
All  desire  to  do  anything  is  lost.  Whatever  it  does  is 
done  only  after  having  been  prodded. 

Similar  experiments  have  been  made  on  other  ani- 
mals, on  pigeons,  fishes,  rats,  etc.,  and  with  similar 
results.  A  pigeon  from  which  the  cerebral  hemi- 
spheres (including  even  the  corpora  striata  and  optic 
thalami,  two  important  centres  at  the  base  of  the  brain) 
have  been  removed,  is  able  still  to  stand  on  one  leg 
like  an  unmutilated  bird  which  has  gone  to  sleep.  If 
left  alone,  it  remains  quiet  like  a  dull  and  sleepy  bird. 
If  disturbed,  it  shifts  its  position.  It  dresses  its 
feathers  and  tucks  its  head  under  its  wing.     If  food 


112  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

be  placed  before  it,  it  will  not  notice  it,  and  will  starve 
if  not  artificially  fed  ;  but  if  food  be  placed  in  its  mouth, 
it  will  swallow  and  chew  like  a  natural  bird.  If  the 
pigeon  be  thrown  into  the  air  it  will  fly,  and  its  flight 
can  scarcely  be  distinguished  from  that  of  a  normal 
bird.  It  will  fly  for  a  considerable  distance  and  avoid 
obstacles.  A  fish  thrown  into  the  water  swims  like  a 
natural  fish,  and  avoids  obstacles  with  considerable 
precision.  The  rabbit  and  rat  which  have  been  simil- 
arly mutilated  run  and  leap.  A  pigeon  was  observed 
by  Flourens,  who  was  first  to  experiment  in  this  man- 
ner, to  open  its  eyes  on  a  pistol  being  fired  ofi^,  ''  stretch 
its  neck,  raise  its  head,  and  then  fall  back  into  its  former 
torpid  attitude,^^  but  it  showed  no  signs  of  fear.  It 
sometimes  followed  the  movements  of  the  candle  in 
front  of  it.  Vulpian  severed  all  connection  between 
the  brain  and  spinal  cord  just  above  the  medulla  oblon- 
gata in  a  rat ;  on  pinching  the  foot  the  animal  uttered 
a  sharp  cry  of  pain.  "  In  another  experiment  he  re- 
moved the  cerebral  hemispheres,  the  corpora  striata, 
and  the  optic  thalami  of  the  rat,  when  it  remained 
perfectly  quiet ;  but  immediately  a  sound  of  spitting 
was  made  in  imitation  of  that  which  a  cat  makes 
sometimes,  it  made  a  bound  away  and  repeated  the 
jump  each  time  that  the  noise  was  made.^^ 

The  actions  of  animals  from  which  the  brain  has 
been  removed  have  been  thus  summarized  by  Onimus. 

^'  As  a  summary,  in  the  inferior  animals,  as  in  the 
superior  animals,  the  removal  of  the  cerebral  hemi- 
spheres does  not  cause  to  disappear  any  of  the  move- 
ments that  previously  existed,  only  these  movements 
assume  certain  peculiar  characters.     In  the  first  place, 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  II3 

they  are  more  regular,  they  have  the  true  normal  type, 
for  no  psychical  influence  intervenes  to  modify  them  ; 
the  locomotive  apparatus  is  brought  into  action  without 
interferences,  and  one  could  almost  say  that,  the  en- 
semble of  movements  is  the  more  normal  than  in  the 
normal  condition. 

^'  In  the  second  place,  the  movements  executed  take 
place  inevitably  after  certain  excitations.  It  is  a  neces- 
sity that  the  frog  placed  in  water  should  swim,  and  that 
the  pigeon  thrown  into  the  air  should  fly.  The  physi- 
ologist can  then,  at  will,  in  an  animal  without  the  brain, 
determine  such  and  such  an  act,  limit  it,  arrest  it ;  he 
can  anticipate  the  movements  and  affirm  in  advance 
that  they  w^ill  take  place  under  certain  conditions, 
absolutely  as  the  chemist  knows  in  advance  the  reac- 
tions that  he  will  obtain  in  mixing  certain  bodies. 

"  Another  peculiarity  in  the  movements  that  take 
place,  when  the  cerebral  lobes  are  removed,  is  their  con- 
tinuation after  a  first  impression.  On  the  ground,  a  frog 
without  the  brain  when  irritated  makes,  in  general, 
two  or  three  jumps  at  the  most;  it  is  rare  that  he 
makes  but  one.  Placed  in  water,  it  continues  the 
movement  of  natation  until  it  meets  with  an  obstacle  ; 
it  is  the  same  in  the  carp,  eel,  etc.  The  pigeon  contin- 
ues to  fly,  the  duck  and  goose  continue  to  swim,  etc. 
We  should  say  that  there  is  a  spring  which  needs  for 
its  action  a  first  impression,  and  which  is  stopped  by  the 
slightest  resistance.  But,  what  is  striking,  is  precisely 
that  continuation  of  the  condition  once  determined,  and 
we  cannot  refrain  from  connecting  the  facts  observed 
in  an  animal  deprived  of  the  cerebral  lobes  with  those 

which  constitute  the  characteristic  properties  of  inor- 
h  10^ 


114  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

ganic  matter.  Brought  into  movement,  the  animal 
without  a  brain  retains  the  movement  until  there  is 
exhaustion  of  the  conditions  of  movement,  or  until  it 
meets  with  resistance ;  taken  in  repose,  it  remains  in 
the  state  of  inertia  until  an  exterior  cause  intervenes  to 
bring  it  out  of  this  condition.  It  is  living^  inert  matter, ^^  ^ 
It  is  hardly  necessary  to  enter  into  any  extended 
discussion  of  these  experiments.  What  they  show  is, 
that  the  movements  habitual  in  the  lower  animals,  as 
walking,  running,  flying,  etc.,  as  well  as  similar  move- 
ments in  man,  are  or  may  be  performed  without  the 
continuous  intervention  of  consciousness,^  by  a  mechan- 
ism at  the  base  of  the  brain.  In  the  gray  ganglia  at  the 
base  is  contained  a  clock-work  which  is  capable  of  carry- 
ing on  these  movements  when  once  the  spring  has  been 
touched  which  sets  it  into  action.  The  modes  by  which 
this  spring  may  be  touched  are  various.  It  may  be  di- 
rectly through  the  sensory  nerves  without  the  interven- 
tion of  the  brain,  as  in  the  case  of  these  experiments; 
in  which  case  all  movements  will  be  performed  without 
the  influence  of  volition  or  consciousness ;  or  it  may  be 


^  Flint's  Physiology. 

-  To  avoid  misunderstanding,  it  should  be  stated  that  the  term 
"consciousness''  is  used  here  in  connection  with  these  experi- 
ments to  indicate  that  special  mode  of  consciousness  called  self- 
consciousness,  by  which  we  are  conscious  of  our  sensations.  It 
is  not  necessary  for  us  to  enter  into  the  question  whether  these 
animals  have  any  sensations  or  sensibility  at  all.  What  I  am 
contending  for  is,  that  even  granting  they  have  no  sensations  or 
anything  that  can  be  imagined  as  a  subjective  state,  that  still 
they  do  not  negative  the  conclusion  that  in  the  normal  state  con- 
sciousness, either  in  its  general  or  special  form,  is  a  causative 
factor  in  our  actions. 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM,  US 

through  the  brain  and  intellect;  in  which  case  this 
clock-work  will  be  directly  under  the  control  of  voli- 
tion. In  the  former  case  the  response  will  naturally 
be  machine-like  after  the  cerebrum  has  been  removed, 
for  there  will  remain  no  force  capable  of  modifying 
the  reaction  once  begun  ;  inasmuch  as  with  the  brain  all 
volition  and  higher  forms  of  consciousness  have  been 
destroyed.  When  the  automatic  mechanism  has  once 
begun  to  work,  it  will  continue  till  either  the  clock  has 
run  down  or  a  new  stimulus  to  the  sensory  nerves  has 
started  a  new  reaction.  But  the  movements  which  are 
carried  on  in  this  way  are  only  those  which  are  habitu- 
ally performed  by  animals  under  normal  conditions. 
The  part  which  is  normally  played  by  that  special 
form  of  consciousness  called  volition  in  all  such  move- 
ments, is  to  touch  the  spring  and  to  regulate  the  work- 
ings of  the  mechanism,  so  as  to  adapt  the  latter  to  the 
clianging  wants  of  the  organism. 

While  volition  can  interfere  and  direct  each  move- 
ment of  the  body,  it  habitually  does  so  only  when 
some  new  or  unusual  movement  is  to  be  performed, 
or  some  old  combination  of  movement  is  to  be 
adapted  to  altered  conditions.  We  all  know  that 
even  in  man  for  such  habitual  movements  as  walk- 
ing, speaking,  writing,  sewing,  knitting,  etc.,  con- 
sciousness of  the  muscular  action  employed  is  not 
necessary.  We  are  accustomed  to  perform  these  actions 
mechanically,  as  we  say,  without  being  aware  of  each 
movement  we  make.  Consciousness  simply  sets  in 
motion  the  mechanism  at  the  base  of  the  brain.  In 
this  way  a  division  of  labor  is  effected.  If  we  were 
obliged  to  keep  our  thoughts  intent  upon  every  move- 


116  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

ment  we  make^  our  brains  would  soon  tire,  and  we 
would  have  little  opportunity  for  thought  and  reflection 
upon  the  matter  which  the  movements  were  intended  to 
effect.  If  I  were  obliged  to  keep  my  mind  intent  upon 
the  formation  of  each  letter  as  I  write,  I  should  have 
little  opportunity  for  thought  concerning  the  matter 
about  which  I  write. 

In  this  important  particular,  then,  the  animal  with- 
out a  brain  differs  from  the  normal  animal.  Though 
all  possible  movements  can  be  performed,  they  are  not 
performed  in  the  same  manner  as  before.  The  animal 
has  lost  the  faculty  which  in  the  normal  condition  mod- 
ifies his  movements;  he  has  no  intelligence  or  volition. 
He  may  be  said  to  know  nothing.  The  customary 
agency  which  guides  him  is  gone.  That  agency  is 
feeling.  His  past  experience  can  serve  him  only  so 
far  as  it  has  impressed  itself  in  the  mechanism  at  the 
base  of  the  brain,  and  can  become  manifest  only  as  a 
mechanical  resultant  to  external  impressions.  Though 
all  normal  movements  are  performed,  they  are  so  only 
as  necessary  reactions  to  external  stimuli,  and  in  a 
stereotyped  manner.  While  the  animal  reacts  to  a 
stimulus,  it  does  not  recognize  what  the  stimulus  is;  it 
shows  no  fear  or  pleasure. 

Though  it  is  true  that  notwithstanding  the  loss  of  the 
brain,  and  also,  therefore,  of  consciousness,  the  animal 
is  capable  of  movements  of  a  complicated  character,  yet 
with  this  loss  of  consciousness  there  is  also  lost  that  very 
modification  of  the  movements  which  is  peculiar  to  the 
animal  possessing  consciousness,  and  which  is  effected  by 
consciousness.  With  the  loss  of  consciousness  there  is 
lost  also  the  especial  manifestations  of  consciousness. 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  117 

These  experiments,  then,  plainly  cannot  be  cited  in 
evidence  of  the  theory  that  volition  has  no  influence  in 
modifying  bodily  action.  When  properly  examined 
they  are  capable  of  no  such  interpretations.  On  the 
contrary,  they  show  that  with  the  removal  of  the  brain 
there  is  brought  about  just  such  a  profound  derange- 
ment of  bodily  functions  as  would  be  expected  to 
follow  from  the  withdrawal  of  consciousness ;  and  the 
results  harmonize  completely  with  our  knowledge  of 
the  functions  of  the  brain. 

In  these  experiments  it  is  very  probable  that  all  the 
actions  of  the  animals  were  not  only  performed  auto- 
matically, but  without  the  co-operation  or  even  pres- 
ence of  any  kind  of  consciousness,  that  is,  anything  like 
d  subjective  state ;  for  the  cerebral  hemispheres  had  been 
removed.  But  in  the  following  extraordinary  case  a  dif- 
ference of  opinion  has  existed,  and  Professor  Huxley  in 
particular  was  led  to  believe  from  analogy  with  the  above 
cases  of  frogs  and  other  animals,  that  consciousness  was 
not  present.  The  case  is  well  known  and  has  been 
frequently  quoted,  and  I  should  not  venture  to  repeat 
it  here  were  it  not  that  it  has  an  important  bearing  on 
the  question  under  discussion,  and  apparently  is  ihQ 
principal  evidence  upon  which  Professor  Huxley  rests 
his  conclusions.  In  this  case  not  only  were  all  move- 
ments present  which  occur  normally,  but  they  were 
modified  and  adapted  to  changing  conditions  as  in  the 
normal  state.  If  it  can  be  shown,  then,  that  they  took 
place  without  being  accompanied  by  consciousness,  a 
strong  case  is  made  out  for  Professor  Huxley's  side. 

The  case  was  reported  by  Dr.  E.  Mesnet  in  the 
Union  Medicale  of  July  21  and  23,  1874.     The  follow- 


118  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM, 

ing  account  of  it  is  taken  from  Maudsley's  "  Physiology 
of  the  Mind'' : 

"A  sergeant  in  the  French  army,  aged  27  years, 
was  wounded  at  the  battle  of  Bazeilles  by  a  bullet, 
which  fractured  the  left  parietal  bone.  He  had  power 
enough  to  thrust  his  bayonet  into  the  Prussian  soldier 
who  wounded  him,  but  almost  at  the  same  instant  his 
right  arm,  and  soon  afterwards  his  right  leg,  became 
paralyzed.  He  lost  consciousness,  and  only  recovered 
it  at  the  end  of  three  weeks,  when  he  found  himself  in 
the  hospital  at  Mayence.  Eight  hemiplegia  was  then 
complete. 

''  By  the  end  of  a  year  he  had  regained  the  use  of 
his  side,  a  slight  feebleness  thereof  only  being  left. 
Some  three  or  four  months  after  the  wound,  peculiar 
disturbances  of  the  brain  manifested  themselves,  which 
have  recurred  since  periodically.  They  usually  last 
from  fifteen  to  thirty  hours,  the  sound  intervals  be- 
tween them  varying  from  fifteen  to  thirty  days.  These 
alternating  phases  of  normal  and  abnormal  conscious- 
ness have  continued  for  four  years. 

"  In  his  normal  condition,  the  sergeant  is  intelligent, 
and  performs  satisfactorily  the  duties  of  a  hospital 
attendant.  The  transition  to  the  abnormal  state  is  in- 
stantaneous. There  is  some  uneasiness  or  heaviness 
about  the  forehead,  which  he  compares  with  the  press- 
ure of  an  iron  band,  but  there  are  no  convulsions,  nor 
is  there  any  cry.  He  becomes  suddenly  unconscious 
of  his  surroundings  and  acts  like  an  automaton.  His 
eyes  are  wide  open,  the  pupils  dilated,  the  forehead  is 
contracted,  there  is  incessant  movement  of  the  eyeballs 
and  a  chewing  motion  of  the  jaws.     In  a  place  to 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  ng 

which  he  is  accustomed  he  walks  about  freely  as  usual, 
but  if  he  be  put  in  a  place  unknown  to  him,  or  if  an 
obstacle  is  put  in  his  way  barring  his  passage,  he 
stumbles  gently  against  it,  stops,  feels  it  with  his  hand, 
and  then  passes  on  one  side  of  it.  He  offers  no  resist- 
ance to  being  turned  this  way  or  that,  but  continues  his 
walk  in  the  way  in  which  he  is  directed.  He  eats, 
drinks,  smokes,  walks,  dresses  and  undresses  himself, 
and  goes  to  bed  at  his  usual  hours.  He  eats  voraciously 
and  without  discernment,  scarcely  chewing  his  food  at 
all,  and  devours  all  that  is  set  before  him  without 
showing  any  satiety.  General  sensibility  is  lost,  pins 
may  be  run  into  his  body,  or  strong  electric  shocks  sent 
through  it,  without  his  evincing  the  least  pain.  The 
hearing  is  completely  lost;  noises  made  close  to  his  ears 
do  not  affect  him.  The  senses  of  taste  and  smell  are 
lost ;  he  drinks  indifferently  water,  wine,  vinegar,  assa- 
foetida,  and  perceives  neither  good  nor  bad  odors.  The 
sense  of  sight  is  almost,  but  not  quite  lost;  on  some 
occasions  he  appears  to  be  in  some  degree  sensible  to 
brilliant  objects,  but  he  is  obliged  to  call  the  sense  of 
touch  to  his  aid  in  order  to  apprehend  their  nature, 
form,  and  position ;  they  produce  only  vague  visual 
impressions,  which  require  interpretation  into  the  lan- 
guage of  touch.  The  sense  of  touch  alone  persists  in 
its  integrity ;  it  seems,  indeed,  to  be  more  acute  than 
normal,  and  to  serve  almost  exclusively  to  maintain  his 
relations  with  the  external  world.  When  he  comes  out 
of  the  attack  he  has  no  remembrance  whatever  of  what 
has  happened  during  it,  and  expresses  the  greatest  sur- 
prise when  told  what  he  has  done. 

"  Through  the  tactile  sense,  trains  of  ideas  may  be 


120  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

aroused  in  his  mind^  which  he  immediately  carries  into 
action.  On  one  occasion,  when  walking  in  the  garden 
under  some  trees,  he  dropped  his  cane,  which  was  picked 
up  and  put  into  his  hand.  He  felt  it,  passing  his  hand 
several  times  over  the  curved  handle,  became  attentive, 
seemed  to  listen,  and  suddenly  cried  out,  '  Henri,^ 
and  a  little  while  afterwards,  ^  There  they  are,  at  least 
twenty  of  them ;  we  shall  get  the  better  of  them !'  He 
then  put  his  hand  behind  his  back,  as  if  to  get  a  car- 
tridge, went  through  the  movements  of  loading  his 
musket,  threw  himself  full  length  upon  the  grass,  and 
concealing  his  head  behind  a  tree,  after  the  manner  of 
a  sharpshooter,  followed,  with  his  cane  to  his  shoulder, 
all  the  movements  of  the  enemy  whom  he  seemed  to 
see.  This  performance,  provoked  in  the  same  way,  was 
repeated  on  several  occasions.  It  was  probably  the 
reproduction  of  an  incident  in  the  campaign  in  which 
he  was  wounded.  '  I  have  found,^  says  Dr.  Mesnet, 
'  that  the  same  scene  is  reproduced  when  the  patient  is 
placed  in  the  same  conditions.  It  has  thus  been  possi- 
ble for  me  to  direct  the  activity  of  my  patient  in  ac- 
cordance with  a  train  of  ideas  which  I  could  call  up, 
by  playing  upon  his  tactile  sensibility  at  a  time  when 
none  of  his  other  senses  afforded  me  any  communication 
with  him.^ 

''  All  the  actions  of  the  sergeant,  when  in  his  abnor- 
mal state,  are  either  repetitions  of  what  he  does  every 
day,  or  they  are  excited  by  the  impressions  which 
objects  make  upon  his  tactile  sense.  Arriving  once  at 
the  end  of  a  corridor  where  there  was  a  locked  door, 
he  passed  his  hands  over  the  door,  found  the  handle, 
took  hold  of  it  and  tried  to  open  the  door.     Failing  in 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  121 

this,  he  searched  for  the  key-hole,  but  there  was  no 
key  there ;  thereupon  he  passed  his  fingers  over  the 
screws  of  the  lock,  and  endeavored  to  turn  them,  with 
the  evident  purpose  of  removing  the  lock.  Just  as  he 
was  about  to  turn  away  from  the  door,  Dr.  Mesnet 
held  up  before  his  eyes  a  bunch  of  seven  or  eight  keys ; 
he  did  not  see  them;  they  were  jingled  loudly  close  to 
his  ears,  but  he  took  no  notice  of  them  :  thev  were 
then  put  into  his  hand,  when  he  immediately  took  hold 
of  them,  and  tried  one  key  after  another  in  the  key- 
hole without  finding  one  that  would  fit.  Leaving  the 
place,  he  went  into  one  of  the  wards,  taking  on  his  way 
various  articles,  with  which  he  filled  his  pockets,  and 
at  length  came  to  a  little  table  which  was  used  for 
making  the  records  of  the  ward.  He  passed  his  hands 
over  the  table,  but  there  was  nothing  on  it;  however, 
he  touched  the  handle  of  a  drawer,  which  he  opened, 
taking  out  of  it  a  pen,  several  sheets  of  paper,  and  an 
inkstand.  The  pen  had  plainly  suggested  the  idea  of 
writing,  for  he  sat  down,  dipped  it  in  the  ink,  and 
began  to  write  a  letter,  in  which  he  recommended  him- 
self to  his  commanding  officer  for  the  military  medal  on 
account  of  his  good  conduct  and  his  bravery.  There 
were  many  mistakes  in  the  letter,  but  they  were  exactly 
the  same  mistakes  in  expression  and  orthography  as  he 
was  in  the  habit  of  making  when  in  his  normal  state. 
From  the  ease  with  which  he  traced  the  letters  and 
followed  the  lines  of  the  paper,  it  was  evident  that  his 
sense  of  sight  was  in  action,  but  this  was  placed  beyond 
doubt  by  the  interposition  of  a  thick  screen  between 
his  eyes  and  his  hand ;  he  continued  to  write  a  few 
words  in  a  confused  and  almost  illegible  manner  and 
F  11 


122  .  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

then  stopped,  without  manifesting  any  impatience  or 
discontent.  When  the  screen  was  withdrawn,  he  fin- 
nished  the  uncompleted  line  and  began  another. 
Another  experiment  was  made :  water  was  substituted 
for  ink.  When  he  found  that  no  letters  were  visible, 
he  stopped,  tried  the  tip  of  his  pen,  rubbed  it  on  his 
coat-sleeve,  and  then  began  again  to  write  with  the 
same  results.  On  one  occasion  he  had  taken  several 
sheets  of  paper  to  write  upon,  and  while  he  was  writ- 
ing on  the  topmost  sheet,  it  was  withdrawn  quickly. 
He  continued  to  write  upon  the  second  sheet  as  if 
nothing  had  happened,  completing  his  sentence  without 
interruption,  and  without  any  other  expression  than  a 
slight  movement  of  surprise.  When  he  had  written 
ten  words  on  the  second  sheet  it  was  removed  as  rap- 
idly as  the  first ;  he  finished  on  the  third  vsheet  the 
line  which  he  had  begun  on  the  second,  continuing 
it  from  the  exact  point  where  his  pen  was  when  the 
sheet  was  removed.  The  same  thing  was  repeated 
with  the  third  and  fourth  sheets,  and  he  finished 
his  letter  at  last  on  the  fifth  sheet,  which  contained  his 
signature  only.  He  then  turned  his  eyes  toward  the 
top  of  this  sheet,  and  seemed  to  read  from  the  top  what 
he  had  written,  a  movement  of  the  lip  accompanying 
each  word ;  moreover,  he  made  several  corrections  on 
the  blank  page,  putting  here  a  comma,  there  an  e,  and 
at  another  place  txt ;  and  each  of  these  corrections  cor- 
responded with  the  position  of  the  words  that  required 
correction  on  the  sheets  which  had  been  withdrawn. 
Dr.  Mesnet  concludes  from  these  experiments  that  sight 
really  existed,  but  that  it  was  only  roused  at  the  in- 
stance of  touch,  and  exercised  only  upon  those  objects 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  123 

with  which  he  was  in  relation  through  touch.  After 
he  had  finished  his  letter  the  sergeant  got  up,  walked 
down  to  the  garden^  rolled  a  cigarette  for  himself, 
sought  for  his  match-box,  lighted  his  cigarette,  and 
smoked  it.  When  the  hVbted  match  fell  upon  the 
ground,  he  extinguished  it  by  putting  his  foot  upon  it. 
When  the  cigarette  was  finished  he  began  to  prepare 
another,  but  his  tobacco-pouch  was  taken  away,  and  he 
sought  in  vain  for  it  in  all  his  pockets.  It  was  offered 
to  him,  but  he  did  not  perceive  it;  it  was  held  up  be- 
fore his  eyes,  but  he  took  no  notice  of  it ;  it  was  thrust 
under  his  nose,  but  he  did  not  smell  it;  when,  however, 
it  was  put  into  his  hand  he  took  it,  completed  his 
cigarette  directly,  and  struck  a  match  to  light  it.  This 
match  was  purposely  blown  out,  and  another  lighted 
one  was  offered  to  him,  but  he  did  not  perceive  it ;  even 
when  it  was  brought  so  close  to  his  eyes  as  to  singe  a 
few  eyelashes  he  did  not  notice  it,  neither  did  he  blink. 
When  the  match  was  applied  to  his  cigarette,  he  took 
no  notice  and  made  no  attempt  to  smoke.  Dr.  Mesnet 
repeated  this  experiment  on  several  occasions,  and 
always  obtained  the  same  results.  The  sergeant  saw 
his  own  match,  but  saw  not  the  match  w^iich  Dr.  Mes- 
net offered  to  him.  There  was  no  contraction  of  the 
pupil  when  the  lighted  match  was  brought  close  to  the 
eye.  He  had  once  been  employed  as  a  singer  at  a  caf§. 
In  one  of  his  abnormal  states  he  was  observed  to  hum 
some  airs  which  seemed  familiar  to  him,  after  which  he 
went  to  his  room,  took  from  a  shelf  a  comb  and  look- 
ing-glass, combed  his  hair,  brushed  his  beard,  adjusted 
his  collar,  and  attended  carefully  to  his  toilet.  When 
the  glass  was  turned  round  so  that  he  only  saw  the 


124  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

back  of  it^  he  went  on  as  if  he  still  saw  himself  in  it. 
On  his  bed  there  were  several  numbers  of  a  periodical 
romance.  These  he  turned  rapidly  over,  apparently 
not  finding  what  he  wanted.  Dr.  Mesnet  took  one  of 
these  numbers,  rolled  it  up  so  as  to  resemble  a  roll  of 
music,  and  put  it  in  his  hand,  when  he  seemed  satisfied, 
descended  the  stairs,  and  walked  across  the  court  of  the 
hospital  towards  the  gate.  He  was  turned  round,  when 
he  started  off  in  the  new  direction  given  to  him,  enter- 
ing the  lodge  of  the  door-keeper,  which  opened  into 
the  hall.  At  this  moment  the  sun  shone  brightly 
through  a  window  in  the  lodge,  and  the  bright  light 
evidently  suggested  the  foot-lights  of  the  stage,  for  he 
placed  himself  before  it,  opened  the  roll  of  paper,  and 
sang  a  patriotic  ballad  in  an  excellent  manner.  When 
he  had  finished  this  he  sang  a  second  and  a  third,  after 
which  he  took  out  his  handkerchief  to  wipe  his  face. 
A  wine-glass  containing  a  strong  mixture  of  vinegar 
and  water  was  offered  to  him,  of  which  he  took  no 
notice,  but  when  it  was  put  in  his  hand  he  drank  it  off 
without  exhibiting  any  sign  of  an  unpleasant  sensation. 
Dr.  Mesnet  propounds  the  question  whether  in  this 
perfect  rendering  of  the  three  ballads  he  heard  his  own 
voice,  or  whether  the  singing  was  purely  as  automatic 
as  his  other  actions.  The  attack  came  to  an  end  before 
they  could  make  an  experiment  to  test  this  question. 
When  the  sergeant  is  in  his  abnormal  state,  it  is  im- 
possible to  awaken  him  to  his  normal  state,  whatever 
efforts  be  made.  No  effect  is  produced  either  by  stim- 
ulation or  by  strong  electrical  currents.  On  one  occa- 
sion he  was  seized  suddenly  by  the  shoulders  and 
thrown  violently  upon  the  grass.     He  manifested  no 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  125 

emotion,   but,  after  feeling  the  turf  with  his  hands, 
raised  himself  again,  calm  and  impassive. 

"  A  remarkable  feature  in  the  case  is  that  the  sergeant 
becomes  a  veritable  MeptomaniaG  during  the  attacks. 
He  purloins  everything  that  he  can  lay  his  hands  on, 
and  conceals  what  he  takes  under  the  quilt,  the  mat- 
tress, or  elsewhere.  This  tendency  to  take  and  hide  has 
shown  itself  in  each  attack.  He  is  content  with  the 
most  trifling  articles,  and  if  he  finds  nothing  belonging 
to  some  one  else  to  steal,  he  hides,  with  all  the  appear- 
ance of  secrecy,  although  surrounded  at  the  time  by 
persons  observing  him,  various  things  belonging  to 
himself,  such  as  his  knife,  water,  pocket-book.  His 
other  actions  during  an  attack  are  repetitions  of  his 
former  habits ;  these  acts  of  stealing  are  not  so.'' 

Professor  Huxley  raises  the  question  whether  this 
man  possessed  consciousness  during  all  these  perform- 
ances,— i.e.,  whether  his  actions  were  accompanied  with 
a  corresponding  train  of  ideas ;  or  whether  the  '^  mind 
is  a  blank,''  and  he  is  in  the  condition  of  the  frog  de- 
prived of  his  brain, — an  automaton,  '^  a  mechanism 
worked  by  molecular  changes  in  the  nervous  system." 
Professor  Huxley,  reasoning  from  the  analogy  which 
he  finds  in  the  frog,  inclines  to  the  latter  supposition. 
That  the  man  is  an  automaton  there  can  be  no  doubt ; 
but  I  cannot  agree  in  thinking  that  ideas  do  not  accom- 
pany his  muscular  movements,  but,  on  the  contrary,  must 
believe  they  govern  them.  In  the  first  place,  as  Huxley 
admits,  there  is  nothing  to  ^^  prove  that  he  is  abso- 
lutely unconscious;"  and  in  the  second  place,  a  much 
stronger  analogy,  as  Dr.  Mesnet  and  Dr.  Carpenter  have 
pointed  out,  can  be  drawn  between  the  performances 

11^ 


126  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

of  this  man  and  those  of  somnambulists — who  certainly 
do  possess  ideas,  for  they  remember  them  afterwards — 
than  between  them  and  the  phenomena  of  the  brainless 
frog.     If  the  former  comparison  be  made,  the  one  will 
be  found  to  resemble  in  important  particulars  the  other ; 
while  if  the  sergeant  be  compared  with  the  brainless 
frog,  an  essential  difference  in  the  movements  of  the  two 
becomes  at  once  apparent.     In  the  frog  deprived  of  his 
hemispheres,  the  actions  of  its  muscles  are  confined  to 
such   simple  movements  as  swimming,  jumping,  and 
balancing  itself,  nearly  all  the  motions  performed  by  a 
frog  in  its  lifetime.     Consequently  the  low^er  centres 
are  perfectly  capable  of  regulating  them.    It  is  similar 
with  fishes  which  simply  swim,  and  pigeons  which  fly 
and  dress  their  feathers.     These  actions  have  been  so 
frequently  repeated  that  the  lower  ganglionic  centres 
carry  them  out  automatically  without  the  intervention 
of  consciousness,  just  as  a  w^oman  knits  or  sews  without 
being  conscious  of  what  she  is  doing,  and  while  her 
thoughts  are  engaged  on  something  else.     And  there  is 
further  this  peculiarity  about  the  brainless  frogs  and 
birds :  they  are  absolutely  machine-like  in  character. 
The  pigeon  thrown  into  the  air  will  continue  to  fly  until 
it  strikes  some  obstacle  or  falls  exhausted  to  the  ground; 
the  fish  will  swim  in  the  same  manner,  and  even  the 
pigeon  will    starve    though   food  be  placed  before  it, 
unless  artificially  fed  like  an  infant.     There  is  lacking 
that  quality  in  its  actions  which  we  call  intelligence. 
To  be  sure, — a  point  upon  which  Huxley  lays  consid- 
erable stress, — the  frog,  if  a  book  be  placed  before  him 
and  he  be   made  to  hop,  will  jump   aside,  carefully 
avoiding  the  obstacle.     But  this  is  one  of  the  simplest 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  127 

of  reflex  actions,  and  similar  to  unconscious  knitting, 
when  sight  directs  the  hands ;  though  we  do  not  per- 
ceive the  stitches,  an  irritation  is  conveyed  direct  from 
retina  to  the  optic  thalamus  and  other  centres  for  the 
co-ordination  of  siglit  and  movement ;  from  here  the 
nervous  current  is  reflected  to  the  muscles  of  the  limbs, 
and  the  animal  springs  in  the  required  direction.  This 
is  a  mechanism  as  simple  as  that  observed  in  the  well- 
known  experiment  on  the  amputated  leg  of  a  frog,  and 
one  which  has  been  performed  thousands  of  times  in 
the  frog's  lifetime,  and  thus  become  impressed  as  it 
were  in  the  nervous  centres.^ 

In  man  there  are  very  few  movements  performed 
unconsciously  without  previous  education.  There  are 
some,  but  they  are  of  the  simplest  kind,  sucli  as  wink- 
ing, sucking  in  the  infant,  crying,  and  possibly  dodging 
the  head  before  an  expected  blow,  etc.  Even  walking 
is  only  with  difficulty  acquired,  and  it  is  only  after  it 
is  skilfully  learned  that  it  can  be  performed  uncon- 
sciously. It  may  be  said  that  if  a  child  were  prevented 
from  using  its  legs  till  after  the  age  at  which  children 
usually  walk,  his  "  walking-centres'^  might  be  suffi- 
ciently developed  by  the  natural  processes  of  growth, 
as  with  flying  in  birds,  to  allow  him  to  walk  without 
education.  But  even  so,  this  is  not  the  case  with  such 
muscular  actions   as,  for  instance,  are  performed   by 

1  It  may  be  that  education  is  not  necessary  for  the  develop- 
ment of  the  mechanism  in  the  lower  centres  required  for  such 
simple  movements.  It  has  been  shown,  I  believe,  that  birds,  for 
instance,  do  not  learn  to  fly.  If  they  are  confined  so  that  they 
cannot  use  their  wings  till  after  the  time  when  birds  usually  fly, 
they  can  fly  as  well  as  other  birds  who  have  gone  through  the 
so-called  process  of  education. 


128  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

telegraph  operators.  They  sometimes  acquire  the  art 
of  telegraphing  with  such  precision,  that  some  are 
enabled  to  transmit  a  message  while  their  thoughts  are 
fixed  upon  something  else ;  ^  that  is,  they  do  it  uncon- 
sciously. A  lady  told  me  that  sometimes  when  she 
finds  difficulty  in  playing  correctly  on  the  piano  a  piece 
of  music,  she  is  enabled  to  accomplish  it  by  fixing  her 
mind  upon  other  things.  But  this  is  only  after  long 
and  hard  labor  at  practising.  In  fact,  it  is  the  case 
with  all  associated  movements  of  any  degree  of  com- 
plexity in  man,  and  probably  also  to  a  great  extent  in 
animals,  that  they  first  must  be  acquired  consciously 
with  the  aid  of  the  higher  centres  of  ideation,  before 
they  can  be  performed  unconsciously^  by  the  lower 
ones.  Applying  this  to  the  case  of  the  French  sergeant, 
we  must  suppose,  if  consciousness  were  not  present, 
that  he  had  repeatedly  practised  those  actions  he  per- 
formed when  he  fancied  the  enemy  in  sight;  and  when 
he  wrote  his  letter,  he  must  have  written  those  same 
sentences  a  great  number  of  times  in  order  to  have 
done  it  unconsciously,  and  especially  to  have  gone  over 
it  again  to  correct  his  mistakes,  when  only  blank  sheets 
of  paper  lay  before  him. 

It  was  found  that  a  certain  amount  of  sight  was 
present  when  associated  with  the  sense  of  touch,  and 
that  it  was  necessary  for  guidance  in  writing.  Now  if 
he  wrote  without  any  ideas  being  present  in  his  mind 
corresponding  to  what  he  wrote,  that  is,  absolutely  un- 

1  Carpenter's  Mental  Physiology. 

2  An  unconscious  act  and  an  automatic  act  must  not  be  con- 
fused. They  are  not  co-extensive.  An  act  may  be  automatic 
and  unconscious,  as  in  walking,  or  it  may  be  automatic  and 
conscious,  as  is  all  mental  action. 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  129 

consciously,  the  muscular  movements  of  his  hand  must 
have  been  guided  by  the  preceding  associated  move- 
ments, and  by  the  optical  excitations  from  the  letters 
and  words  he  had  written.  The  exact  part  played  by 
each  it  is  impossible  to  distinguish.  In  the  case  of 
the  telegraph  operator,  there  is  required  merely  an  asso- 
ciation of  the  optical  appearance  of  each  letter  with 
the  muscular  movements  required  to  telegraph  the  same 
letter^  an  association  which  has  been  cemented  by  every 
telegraph  operator  thousands  of  times.  But  with  the 
sergeant,  for  the  letter  to  have  been  written  uncon- 
sciously, the  optical  appearance  of,  and  muscular  move- 
ment necessary  for,  each  letter  must  have  been  firmly 
associated  with  the  muscular  movement  needed  to  write 
each  succeeding  letter ;  in  this  way  each  word  must  have 
been  united  with  each  word,  and  phrase  with  phrase, 
and  sentence  with  sentence.  To  have  formed  such  an 
association,  that  same  letter  to  his  commanding  officer 
must  have  been  written  hundreds  of  times. 

In  the  case  of  the  operator  it  is  copying,  in  the  other 
case  it  is  composition.  The  latter  is  a  most  complicated 
affair,  and  never  could  have  been  done  by  the  lower 
centres  without  long  previous  training.  If  ideas  of 
what  he  was  writing  were  present  to  his  mind,  there 
is  no  great  difficulty  in  understanding  the  case.  He 
wrote  as  a  somnambulist  writes,  though  he  was  not  in 
possession  of  all  his  senses.  Nor  is  there  any  great 
difficulty  in  the  fact  that  he  remembered  what  he  wrote, 
when  he  read  and  corrected  his  letter  on  a  blank  sheet. 

Further  analysis  would  show  many  other  facts  to 
prove  the  presence  of  consciousness. 

But  there  is  one  point  which  hitherto  seems  to  have 


130  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

escaped  notice^  and  which,  to  my  mind,  conclusively 
proves  that  the  man  had  consciousness,  and  that  his 
actions  were  governed  by  ideas  when  he  read  his  letter, 
and  corrected  and  punctuated  the  blank  sheet  of  paper. 
What  was  going  on  in  his  cerebrum  during  this  time 
which  could  have  caused  him  to  have  made  the  correc- 
tions ?  If  there  was  not  an  image  there,  in  idea,  of  the 
past  composed  letter,  what  directed  the  corrections  ?  It 
could  not  have  been  the  sight  of  the  misspelt  words, 
because  the  paper  before  him  was  blank.  It  may  be 
said  the  movements  of  his  lips,  which  accompanied  the 
re-reading  of  the  letter,  by  association,  regulated  the 
correction.  But  this  is  merely  suspending  the  world 
upon  the  elephant,  for  we  have  then  to  account  for  the 
movement  of  the  lips.  But  admitting  it  for  the  mo- 
ment as  sufficient,  it  is  hardly  possible  that  such  mus- 
cular movements  could  have  indicated  the  misspelling 
of  a  word  unless  the  idea  of  the  word  was  present  to 
his  mind.  Nor  would  this  be  a  satisfactory  explana- 
tion for  the  insertion  of  the  punctuation  marks.  There 
is  no  movement  of  the  lips  corresponding  to  a  comma. 
How  could  the  lips  indicate  there  was  no  comma  there? 
The  only  satisfactory  explanation  that  can  be  offered  is 
that  the  ideas  which  were  expressed  on  paper  actually 
were  present  to  his  mind ;  or,  in  other  words,  he  pos- 
sessed consciousness. 

But  if  consciousness  was  present,  there  is  nothing  to 
show  that  it  was  not  the  active  agent  in  the  production 
of  his  actions.  On  the  contrary,  there  is  every  evidence 
to  prove  that  it  was.  All  evidence,  then^  on  the  experi- 
mental side,  tending  to  show  that  feeling  is  not  the  cause 
of  our  actions,  falls  to  the  ground. 


CHAPTER    III. 

SELF-DETEKMINATION. 

Theee  is  one  objection  which  is  sure  to  be  raised 
against  the  views  which  have  been  argued  in  the  pre- 
ceding pages,  to  the  consideration  of  which  I  propose 
to  devote  this  chapter.  This  objection  is  one  which  has 
been  urged,  and  it  must  be  confessed  with  much  truth, 
against  every  other  theory  of  automatism.  It  arises 
from  a  fear  that  in  some  way  or  other  a  limitation  will 
be  set  to  the  freedom  of  human  thought.  If  any  doc- 
trine of  automatism  is  inconsistent  with  any  fact  that 
is  established  directly  by  consciousness,  it  is  evidence 
that  there  is  a  flaw  somewhere  in  the  logic.  A  doctrine 
to  be  sufficient  must  explain  all  the  facts,  whether  those 
facts  be  physical  or  mental.  If  it  does  not  do  so,  it  is 
not  sufficient. 

I  propose  now  to  consider  whether  there  is  any  fact 
on  the  side  of  ^^  self-determination^^  with  which  that 
view  of  automatism  which  has  been  adopted  in  this 
work  is  opposed,  and  if  there  are  any  grounds  for  the 
fear  that  our  mental  liberty  is  in  some  way  abridged 
by  it.  I  may  say  here,  in  parenthesis,  that  any  mental 
freedom  we  may  have,  we  have ;  and  no  doctrine,  as  a 
doctrine,  can  abridge  it,  and  no  asseveration  can  give 
us  what  we  have  not  got. 

It  will  be  my  purpose  to  show  that  automatism  after 
all  is  not  a  very  terrible  thing,  and  that  when  properly 

131 


132  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

understood  it  contains  nothing  that  is  not  reconcilable 
with  popular  notions  regarding  mental  freedom.  Its 
apparent  inconsistency  with  that  power,  which  each 
individual  feels  and  knows  he  has,  will  be  found  to  be 
only  a  bugbear  with  which  to  frighten  the  unthought- 
ful,  and  when  carefully  examined  will  be  made  to  reveal 
its  skeleton  nature. 

If  by  self-determination  is  meant  the  ability  to  direct 
our  attention  in  one  way  more  than  another,  to  keep 
our  thoughts  occupied  with  one  class  of  facts  to  the 
exclusion  of  others,  and  to  make  a  choice  when  two 
courses  of  action  are  open  to  us,  I  know  of  no  evi- 
dence which  could  be  more  cogent  than  that  which  we 
already  possess  pointing  to  the  possession  of  such  a 
power.  I  agree  with  Dr.  Carpenter  that  the  evidence 
of  our  own  consciousness  in  this  respect  is  sufficient 
and  decisive.  That  I  can  direct  my  attention  ou  any 
particular  subject  to  the  exclusion  of  other  subjects, 
provided,  of  course,  the  circumstances  under  which  I 
make  the  trial  are  not  those  of  great  excitement,  is  a 
fact  of  consciousness,  which  I  can  demonstrate  as  often 
as  I  choose  to  try.  Each  one  has  sufficient  evidence 
in  his  own  consciousness  to  show  not  only  that  he  has 
the.power  to  direct  his  attention,  and  to  make  a  choice, 
when  two  courses  of  action  are  open  to  him,  but  that 
he  does  direct  his  thoughts,  and  does  make  such  choice; 
provided]  however,  and  this  proviso  is  of  great  impor- 
tance, he  has  a  siifftcient  motive  to  do  so.  For  the  evi- 
dence of  consciousness  is  equally  cogent  in  deciding 
that  in  thus  directing  the  course  of  his  thoughts  and 
making  his  choice  it  is  the  preponderance  of  motives 
which  determines  him.     In  this  there  is  nothing  that 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  133 

is  incompatible  either  with  the  view  herein  maintained 
of  the  nature  of  mind,  nor  of  the  automatic  character 
of  ideas.  It  is  only  inconsistent  with  that  cruder  form 
of  automatism  which  regards  our  actions  as  simply  the 
resultant  of  the  bodily  mechanism,  and  makes  our 
thoughts  mere  by-products,  without  influence  upon  such 
actions.  Such  a  theory  of  automatism  could  only  arise 
from  the  crudest  notions  of  the  relation  between  the 
mind  and  the  body. 

But  after  having  established  the  power  of  self-deter- 
mination, the  agency  by  which  this  is  accomplished  is 
a  second  and  further  question.  We  say  that  we  have 
this  power  of  determining  our  actions;  but  what  do  we 
understand  by  this  term  ivef  If  by  it  is  meant,  as 
seems  to  be  by  Dr.  Carpenter,  Archbishop  Manning, 
and  others,  not  only  *^  another  faculty,  but,  more  than 
this,  another  agent,  distinct  from  the  thinking  brain," 
which  directs  the  working  of  our  mind  and  body,  then 
something  is  assumed  which  our  conscious  experience 
can  no  longer  be  evoked  to  establish.  We  know  by 
direct  consciousness  that  our  thoughts  can  be  deter- 
mined in  this  or  that  direction,  according  to  certain 
previous  desires.  But  I  know  of  no  consciousness 
which  directly  informs  us  of  the  manner  in  which  this 
is  done,  and  still  less  of  an  extra  Ego  over  and  above 
our  states  of  consciousness,  which  plays  with  our 
thoughts  as  it  would  at  ninepins.  I  can  imagine  a 
distinct  ''  faculty"  of  the  mind,  which  is  associated  with 
and  regulates  the  other  states  of  mind,  but  such  a 
faculty  must  be  only  some  state  of  the  mind  itself;  so 
that  the  conditions  would  simply  be  equivalent  to  a 
state  of  consciousness  acting  on  all  other  states.     The 

12 


134  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM, 

probability  of  there  being  such  faculty  is  another  ques- 
tion, which  I  am  not  discussing.  I  know  of  no  evi- 
dence for  it,  and  still  less  for  an  extra  independent  Ego. 
In  my  judgment,  the  only  way  in  Avhich  we  can  ascer- 
tain the  mechanism  by  which  this  self-determination 
is  accomplished  is  to  study  and  analyze  that  feeling 
of  personality  commonly  called  the  Ego,  which  each 
individual  has.  When  we  make  use  of  the  expres- 
sions ^^we,^^  ^^you,^^  etc.,  for  the  ordinary  purposes  of 
social  life,  our  meaning  is  plain  enough,  and  it  would 
be  mere  pedantry  to  ask  for  a  precise  definition;  we 
should  undoubtedly  set  any  one  down  for  an  unmiti- 
gated bore  who  should  interrupt  us  with  a  demand  for 
a  philosophical  explanation.  But  in  questions  of  this 
kind  involving  the  deeper  strata  of  human  kno^vledge, 
it  is  not  only  not  superfluous,  but  absolutely  essential  to 
define  exactly  what  is  meant  by  every  term  used,  when 
susceptible  of  different  interpretations.  Now  there  are 
several  conceptions  which  may  be  formed  of  the  Ego. 

There  is  the  idea  of  an  ^^  agent  distinct  from  the 
thinking  brain,'^  which  directs  our  processes  of  thought 
and  bodily  actions,  and  to  which  a  sort  of  ownership 
is  given  over  all  the  individual  portions  of  the  body, 
and  the  mental  faculties.  For  any  such  agent  as  this 
there  is  no  evidence  whatsoever.  It  is  merely  an  ab- 
stract notion,  the  result  of  an  artifice  of  thought,  and 
has  no  existence.  Therefore,  under  such  a  conception, 
the  phrase  "  we  have  a  self-determining  power'^  is 
philosophically  empty  of  meaning. 

Another  idea  of  the  Ego  comprehends  the  body  and 
the  mind  united  together  into  a  whole.  No  particular 
state  of  mind  is  thought  of  as  differentiated  from  the 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  ]  35 

rest,  but  all  possible  states  of  mind  united  as  an  abstract 
notion  to  a  body.  This  is  much  like  the  conception 
we  form  of  another  person's  personality,  a  sort  of  ob- 
jective Ego.  We  have  a  notion  of  his  body,  and  we 
imagine  an  abstract  mind,  similar  to  our  own,  connected 
with  it.  We  have  in  our  thoughts  no  particular  state 
of  mind,  as  an  agent,  acting  on  the  individuaPs  body, 
but  an  abstract  mind. 

Another  similar  but  less  comprehensive  notion  of 
this  personality  is  mind  as  a  whole  in  distinction  from 
the  body.  Both  of  these  conceptions  of  the  Ego  are  too 
abstract  to  serve  the  purposes  of  this  inquiry. 

That  interpretation  of  this  feeling  of  personality, 
which  I  conceive  to  be  the  correct  one,  is,  that  it  is  a 
compound  of  any  given  dominant  state  of  consciousness 
that  may  be  present  at  any  moment,  and  other  faint 
revived  former  states,  and  a  whole  stream  of  faint  im- 
pressions more  or  less  simultaneously  coming  from  the 
periphery  of  the  body.  These  last  are  more  or  less  con- 
stant. I  take  it  that  consciousness  at  any  given  moment 
of  time,  where  the  feeling  of  personality  is  present,  is 
always  partly  made  up  of  these  impressions  streaming 
in  from  the  periphery  and  constituting  our  consciousness 
of  the  body.  On  the  other  hand,  there  are  times  when 
we  have  absolutely  no  feeling  of  an  Ego.  Such  times 
are  those  of  deep  thought  or  revery.  In  studying  my 
own  consciousness  at  such  times  (by  recalling  them  of 
course  afterwards  to  memory)  I  cannot  recall  any  feeling 
of  personality  whatever.  All  consciousness  of  surround- 
ings, of  my  own  body,  of  ray  own  Ego,  disappears.  I 
can  afterwards  only  recall  successive  ideas  following 
one  another  automatically  without  reference  to  the  sur- 


136  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

roundings,  without  even  any  sensations  from  my  body. 
Afterwards  when  I  come  to  myself,  as  the  saying  goes, 
these  successive  ideas  are  revived  faintly  as  memory 
and  become  joined  with  my  now  dominant  state  of 
consciousness.  This  latter  now  is  also  reinforced  by 
the  stream  of  sensations  from  the  dilBPerent  portions  of 
the  body.  These  sensations  are  identical  with  those 
which  have  been  nearly  constantly  experienced,  and 
constitute  my  knowledge  of  my  body.  With  the  domi- 
nant active  state  of  consciousness  are  also  associated 
many  other  faint  ideas  or  remembrances  of  former 
states.  Consequently  every  state  of  consciousness  where 
this  feeling  of  personality  is  present  is  a  compound  one, 
consisting  partly  of  former  states  revived  and  partly  of 
new  ones,  and  in  many  cases  the  new  ones  are  but  re- 
combinations of  old  ones.  It  is  from  this  that  the 
feeling  of  personality  arises,  as  it  seems  to  me.  Every 
state  of  consciousness  being  connected  with  other  states, 
some  of  which  (sensations)  are  constantly  or  nearly 
constantly  present,  they  all  seem  to  belong  to  each 
other  and  to  constitute  a  whole  or  Ego,  and  this  Ego 
is  always  felt  to  be  the  same  Ego,  because  part  of  its 
complex  composition  always  is  the  same,  and  its  ele- 
ments as  elements  are  the  same.^ 

The  whole  mental  process  is  undoubtedly  a  very 
complex  one,  with  many  variations,  and  it  is  almost 
impossible  to  completely  analyze  it.  An  illustration 
will  give  an  idea  of  the  principle  which  I  conceive 
underlies  this  sense  of  the  Ego. 


^  I  have  an  impression  that  a  somewhat  similar  explanation  has 
been  given  by  Clifford,  but  I  have  not  his  works  by  me  to  verify  it. 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  137 

I  am  sitting  in  my  study  of  a  hot  day,  writing.  I 
soon  feel  thirsty.  This  feeling  grows  on  me  till  I  think 
of  satisfying  my  desire.  It  becomes  my  dominant  idea. 
I  now  remember  a  pitcher  of  water  standing  on  the 
table  opposite^  and  impressed  by  this  idea  and  the  effect 
which  I  imagijie  will  result  if  I  pour  out  a  glass  of 
water  and  drink  it^  I  proceed  to  carry  the  latter  into 
effect.  Here  is  a  comparatively  simple  and  yet  very 
complex  state  of  affairs.  Now  how  does  the  sense  of 
the  Ego  arise  out  of  these  various  states  of  conscious- 
ness?    I  conceive  it  to  be  in  this  way. 

The  dominant  and  vivid  idea  ^^in  my  mind/^  that  is, 
among  a  complex  group  of  ideas,  is  the  sensation  of 
thirst.  This  sensation  does  not  stand  alone,  but  is 
joined  to  other  sensations  from  my  mouth  and  throat, 
which  are  the  same  sensations  as  have  been  constantly 
present  before.  (For  that  matter,  the  sensation  of  thirst 
is  the  same  sensation  often  previously  present  in  con- 
sciousness, but  now  re-excited,  just  as  the  molecular 
disturbances  underlying  it  are  re-excited  in  the  same 
manner  that  they  have  been  before.)  Other  sensations 
from  the  surface  of  the  body,  the  same  that  have  been 
experienced  before,  now  reinforce  the  others.  Besides 
this,  sensations  from  my  surroundings  in  my  study,  the 
same  that  have  time  and  again,  like  the  others,  formed 
a  portion  of  my  states  of  conscience,  are  now  added  to 
my  present  complex  state.  Most  of  these  sensations 
are  not  only  like  but  identical  with  previously  present 
sensations,  which  latter  are  simply  revived.  Now  all 
these  different  sensations  compounded  together  give  the 
sense  of  personality,  or  the  Ego,  and  the  now  dominant 
sensation  of  thirst  being  added,  I  say,  I  am  thirsty. 

12^ 


138  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

This  new  sensation  becomes  incorporated  in  tlie  group, 
to  which  other  sensations,  to  be  in  turn  dominant,  may 
be  added,  as,  again,  warmth.  I  say,  I  am  warm,  the 
feeling  of  warmth  being  added  to  a  group,  in  Avhich 
the  feeling  of  thirst  now  forms  an  element  as  a  faintly 
revived  state. 

Such  being  the  complex  out  of  which  the  sense  of 
personality  is  formed,  it  becomes  requisite  to  ask  which 
is  the  active  agent  in  all  this  in  determining  action.  It 
is  undoubtedly  the  vivid,  active  state,  modified  more  or 
less  by  the  circumstances  of  the  case.  The  sensation 
of  thirst,  for  example,  is  the  active  agent  determining 
me  to  drink  some  water  and  to  the  performance  of  the 
requisite  actions.  The  method  I  employ  to  satisfy  my 
thirst  would  be  modified  by  the  other  elements  of  my 
complex  state  of  consciousness,  these  varying  w^ith  the  sur- 
roundings, the  time  of  day,  and  other  associated  ideas. 

It  is  this  complex  state,  then,  which  constitutes  the 
Ego,  and  hence,  as  a  whole,  the  determining  agent, 
though  some  of  its  elements  are  more  active  than  others 
in  accomplishing  the  result.  The  most  vivid  and  dom- 
inant element,  as  the  feeling  of  thirst  in  the  above  illus- 
tration, might  be  regarded  as  the  driving  power,  while 
the  associated  elements  are  the  steering-gear  which  reg- 
ulates the  action. 

Now  in  this  matter  of  self-determination,  if  it  be  said 
that  the  Ego — being  a  complex  state  of  consciousness — 
determines  another  state  of  consciousness  that  may  be 
associated  with  it,  with  or  without,  as  the  case  may  be, 
its  accompanying  muscular  action,  the  proposition  is  a 
truism  which  cannot  be  gainsaid.  In  this  sense  we 
certainly  have  self-determination,  for  the  inducing  state 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM,  139 

of  consciousness  is  as  much  a  part  of  self  as  the  succeed- 
ing one  that  is  determined  by  it. 

But  if,  on  the  other  hand,  it  be  asserted  that  the  state 
of  consciousness  called  the  Ego  can  determine  any  other 
state  which  is  not  in  any  way  associated  with  it,  and 
irrespective  of  all  former  experience  by  which  ideas  are 
associated,  then  something  is  maintained  which  is  en- 
tirely contrary  to  all  experience  and  indefensible.  It 
cannot  be  denied  that  it  is  possible  for  us  to  act  in  any 
particular  manner,  provided  that  that  idea,  which  is  di- 
rectly connected  with  and  the  precursor  of  the  action  in 
question,  is  present  in  consciousness,  howsoever  it  may 
arise.  In  this  sense  we  have  self-determination,  for 
this  idea  determines  action.  But  manifestly  no  idea 
can  occasion  another  idea,  or  bodily  action,  whicli  is 
not  connected  with  it ;  nor  can  any  given  state  of  mind 
or  bodily  action  occur  when  the  state  of  consciousness 
present  is  one  far  removed  from  the  one  in  question. 
Furthermore,  it  is  self-evident  that  no  idea  can  arise 
spontaneously.  Every  idea  is  conditioned  by  some 
previous  idea  or  stimulus,  and  forms  a  link  in  a  chain 
of  events. 

Now  if  an  idea  which  determines  an  action  is  itself 
determined  by  a  preceding  idea,  which  in  turn  can  be 
traced  to  a  still  earlier  one,  and  so  on  back  through  a 
chain  of  such  ideas,  until  finally  we  arrive  at  a  sensory 
stimulus  of  some  kind,  it  would  seem  plainly  evident 
that  the  final  action  is  determined  indirectly  through 
a  succession  of  ideas  by  the  primary  stimulus.  Fur- 
thermore^ it  would  seem  that,  if  no  disturbing  element 
came  in,  that  particular  succession  of  ideas  and  ensuing 
action  must  result,  and  no  other.     Now  this  is  all  the 


140  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

reflex  theory  demands,  and  in  this  there  is  nothing  that 
the  most  extreme  defender  of  self-determination  may 
not  concede.  But  if  the  still  further  claim  be  made 
that  self-determination  is  effected  by  an  '^  agent  distinct 
from  the  thinking  brain/'  by  something  that  is  in- 
dependent of  our  other  conscious  states,  and  is  not 
governed  by  the  same  laws  as  other  states  of  conscious- 
ness, then  something  is  asserted  which  cannot  be  sub- 
stantiated, and  which  must  lie  outside  the  region  of 
experience,  and  be  therefore  unknowable.  For  there 
is  nothing  in  our  conscious  experience  which  directly 
gives  us  cognition  of  this  agent,  nor  anything  that 
necessitates  one  hypothecating  it  as  an  explanation  of 
known  facts.  Whether  that  interpretation  of  the  sense 
of  personality  which  I  have  offered  be  the  coi'rect  one, 
or  whether  this  sense  arises  from  some  other  combina- 
tion of  mental  factors,  there  are  no  more  grounds  for 
the  assumption  of  an  autocratic  Ego  than  there  for- 
merly was  for  assuming  a  spiritual  entity  for  an  expla- 
nation of  mind. 

The  question  may  very  pertinently  be  asked,  What 
manner  of  thing  is  this  Ego?  Is  it  something  akin 
to  that  consciousness  which  we  know  is  the  reality 
of  the  phenomena  of  matter,  or  is  it  something  essen- 
tially foreign  in  its  nature  ?  If  the  former,  why,  it  may 
be  asked,  is  it  not  subject  to  the  same  laws  that  govern 
other  states  of  consciousness  ?  if  the  latter,  it  must  be  far 
beyond  our  ken,  and  the  old  problem  becomes  practically 
reproduced,  how  can  it  act  upon  the  reality  of  matter? 

From  a  physiological  point  of  view,  this  extreme 
form  of  self-determination  is  equivalent  to  saying  that 
"  we''  can  divert  the  neural  current  which  naturally 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  \\l 

would  flow  in  one  circuit  into  a  different  circuit,  irre- 
spective of  the  intensity  of  the  molecular  action,  and 
the  anatomical  and  physiological  connections  in  the 
brain.     This  seems  to  me  incomprehensible. 

There  is  one  thing  which  must  not  be  overlooked, 
and  this  is,  that  whatever  powers  of  self-determination 
we  may  have,  every  action  is  determined  by  the  strong- 
est motive.  However  we  may  act,  we  cannot  act  con- 
trary to  the  strongest  motive ;  for  the  moment  we 
conclude  to  act  in  opposition  to  what  was  the  strongest 
motive,  the  new  motive,  whatever  it  be,  if  it  be  only  the 
desire  to  show  that  we  have  the  power  to  do  so,  becomes 
the  strongest  motive,  overwhelming  the  preceding  and 
determining  action.  Whatever  motive  determines, 
action  is  the  strongest, — else  it  would  not  so  determine 
us, — and  we  are  compelled  to  act  according  to  it. 

When  we  analyze  our  thoughts  it  is  not  always  easy 
to  make  out  their  automatic  character,  so  complicated 
is  any  mental  action  which  involves  any  reasoning  pro- 
cess except  of  the  simplest  kind.  If  we  examine  those 
mental  actions  which  are  admitted  to  be  automatic,  as 
when  one  suddenly  cries  out  on  being  struck,  or,  to 
take  a  more  elaborate  example,  when  a  school-boy 
recites  long  rules  which  he  has  learned  by  heart  from 
his  Latin  grammar,  we  shall  find  the  distinguishing 
characteristic  to  be  the  absence  of  deliberation.  In  fact, 
in  many  such  cases  the  moment  we  deliberate  we  are 
lost.  The  school-boy,  too,  often  cannot  tell  whether 
any  given  word  is  contained  in  a  list  without  beginning 
with  the  first  and  repeating  them  in  order. 

When  one  idea  follows  another  without  conscious 
effort  on  our  part,  without  that  special  feeling  called 


142  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

volition^  the  mental  action  is  said  to  be  automatic; 
while  when  we  have  a  feeling  of  volitional  eflPort,  or 
are  conscious  of  what  is  called  deliberation,  our  thoughts 
are  declared  to  be  automatic. 

But  if  the  reasoning  which  has  been  adduced  in 
these  pages  be  correct^  this  distinction  is  merely  arti- 
ficial; from  the  lowest  form  of  mental  action  to  the 
highest  a  gradual  transition  may  be  traced^  showing 
that  there  is  no  difference  in  kind,  but  only  one  of 
degree.  Examples  of  this  action  of  the  mind,  when 
the  automatic  character  of  the  ideas  is  plainly  discern- 
ible, are  more  or  less  common  in  every  individual, 
though  to  some  they  are  to  a  large  extent  habitual. 
When  we  fall  into  day-dreams  and  reveries,  it  is  very 
easy  to  recognize  the  automatic  character  of  our 
thoughts,  one  follows  another  in  natural  succession, 
according  to  a  previous  association.  On  the  other 
hand,  it  requires  considerable  introspective  skill  to 
recognize  the  same  principle  in  thatstateof  mind  called 
deliberation,  wherein  the  ideas,  instead  of  following 
one  another  in  progressive  series  without  return  to 
the  original  and  fundamental  thought,  continually  di- 
verge from  and  return  to  this  as  a  centre ;  thus  en- 
circling, as  it  were,  the  latter,  approaching  it  on  all 
sides  only  to  leave  it  again  by  every  path  of  ideas  that 
may  be  joined  by  the  bonds  of  association  with  it. 
Each  ^^lead^^  of  thoughts  is  followed,  as  if  to  see 
whither  it  goes  and  if  it  will  bring  us  to  the  desired  end. 
Just  as  in  trying  to  disentangle  a  snarl  of  thread  we 
follow  each  loop  in  turn,  hoping  to  find  the  one  which 
will  unbind  the  whole,  so  in  deliberation  we  follow 
each  train  of  ideas  that  is  associated  with  the  central 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  143 

thought  in  the  endeavor  to  find  the  one  that  will  solv^e 
the  problem. 

Between  these  two  modes  of  activity — Revery  and 
Deliberation — there  is  every  possible  degree  of  tran- 
sition, one  gradually  shading  into  the  other^  and  it  is 
impossible  to  say  where  one  begins  and  the  other  ends. 

The  exalted  form  of  the  plainly  discernible  auto- 
matic action  may  often  be  seen  in  the  mental  activity 
of  men  of  genius,  in  whom  it  is  more  or  less  habitual. 
Coleridge  and  Mozart  were  particularly  interesting 
examples.  The  former's  flow  of  talk  has  been  described 
as  only  thinking  aloud,  and  his  whole  life  as  only  a 
waking  dream.  His  thoughts  ran  on  without  regard 
to  anything  or  anybody,  heedless  of  interruption,  while 
his  words  were  only  the  expression  of  every  associated 
and  reflected  idea.  Mozart^s  genius  was  essentially 
automatic,  as  can  be  seen  from  the  following  account 
of  his  method  of  working  :^ 

''  You  say  you  should  like  to  know  my  way  of  com- 
posing, and  what  method  I  follow  in  writing  works  of 
some  extent.  I  can  really  say  no  more  on  the  subject 
than  the  following,  for  I  myself  know  no  more  about 
it,  and  cannot  account  for  it.  When  I  am,  as  it  were, 
completely  myself,  entirely  alone,  and  of  good  cheer, 
say  travelling  in  a  carriage  or  walking  after  a  good 
meal,  or  during  the  night  when  I  cannot  sleep,  it  is  on 
such  occasions  that  my  ide:\s  flow  best  and  most  abun- 
dantly. Whence  and  lioiv  they  come  I  know  not,  nor 
can  I  force  them.     Those  ideas  that  please  me  I  retain 

1  See  Dr.  Carpenter's  "  Mental  Physiology"  for  an  interesting 
account  of  the  automatic  character  of  Coleridge  and  Mozart's 
minds. 


144  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

in  my  memory,  and  am  accustomed  (as  I  have  been 
told)  to  hmn  them  to  myself.  If  I  continue  in  this 
way,  it  soon  occurs  to  me  how  I  may  turn  this  or  that 
morceau  to  account,  so  as  to  make  a  good  dish  of  it, — 
that  is  to  say,  agreeably  to  the  rules  of  counter-point, 
to  the  peculiarities  of  the  various  instruments,  etc. 

"All  this  fires  my  soul,  and,  provided  I  am  not  dis- 
turbed, my  subject  enlarges  itself,  becomes  method- 
ized and  defined,  and  the  whole,  though  it  be  long, 
stands  almost  complete  and  finished  in  my  mindy^o  that 
I  can  survey  it  like  a  fine  picture,  or  a  beautiful  statue, 
at  a  glance.  Nor  do  I  hear  in  my  imagination  the 
parts  successively,  but  I  hear  them,  as  it  were,  all  at 
once.  What  a  delight  this  is  I  cannot  tell !  All  this 
inventing,  this  pondering,  takes  place  in  a  pleasing, 
lively  dream.  Still  the  actual  hearing  of  the  tout 
ensemble  is,  after  all,  the  best.  What  has  been  thus 
produced  I  do  not  easily  forget,  and  this  is  perhaps 
the  best  gift  I  have  my  Divine  Maker  to  thank  for. 

"  When  I  proceed  to  write  down  my  ideas,  I  take 
out  of  the  bag  of  my  memory,  if  I  may  use  that  phrase, 
what  has  previously  been  collected  into  it  in  the  way  I 
have  mentioned.  For  this  reason  the  committing  to 
paper  is  done  easily  enough,  for  everything  is,  as  I  have 
said  before,  already  finished,  and  it  rarely  differs  on 
paper  from  what  it  was  in  my  imagination.  At  this 
occupation  I  can  therefore  suffer  myself  to  be  dis- 
turbed; for,  whatever  may  be  going  on  around  me,  I 
write  and  even  talk,  but  only  of  fowls  and  geese,  or  of 
Gretie  or  Barbie,  or  some  such  matters.  But  why  my 
productions  take  from  my  hand  that  particular  form 
and  style  that  makes  them  Mozartish,  and  different  from 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  145 

the  works  of  other  composers,  is  probably  owing  to  the 
same  cause  which  renders  my  nose  so,  or  so  large,  so 
aquiline,  or,  in  short,  makes  it  Mozart^s,  and  different 
from  that  of  other  people.  For  I  really  do  not  study 
or  aim  at  any  originality;  I  should,  in  fact,  not  be  able 
to  describe  in  what  mine  consists,  though  I  think  it 
quite  natural  that  persons  who  have  really  an  indi- 
vidual appearance  of  their  own  are  also  differently 
organized  from  others,  both  externally  and  internally. 
At  least  I  know  that  I  have  not  constituted  myself 
either  one  way  or  another/^ — Holmes^s  Life  of  Mozart, 
p.  318.^ 

This  necessary  dependence  of  the  brain  upon  external 
stimuli  for  thought  is  well  observed  in  social  society. 
It  is  this  need  which  draws  human  beings  together  and 
makes  man  a  social  animal.  It  is  to  these  influences 
that  are  due  the  charms  of  conversation  and  the  pleas- 
ures to  be  obtained  from  lectures  and  at  the  theatre ; 
and  it  may  be  said  that  it  is  upon  its  emotional  influ- 
ence that  religion  depends  for  its  power.  It  is  through 
this  stimulation  of  the  mind,  the  awakening  into  life 
of  the  dormant  cells  of  the  brain,  that  we  find  delight 
in  books,  in  works  of  art,  and  music.  It  is  for  the 
want  of  this  that  the  horrors  of  solitude  consist ;  we 
need  something  to  stimulate  our  minds.  This  we  find 
in  our  friendship  with  men,  in  literature,  in  science. 
They  awaken  a  reaction  within  us  and  give  us  life.  By 
their  help  we  can  elevate  the  mind  to  the  highest  stages 
of  development;  by  their  complete  withdrawal  it  is 
possible  to  produce  perfect  idiocy.     And  just  as  our 

1  Quoted  by  Carpenter.     Op.  cit.,  p.  272, 
G        ^  13 


146  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM, 

muscles,  from  lack  of  use,  will  wither  away  and  become 
useless,  so  will  our  minds  under  the  same  circumstances 
degenerate  and  become  vacant ;  and  it  may  be  said  in 
general  that  as  the  brain  in  its  lowest  form  of  develop- 
ment reco»:nizes  onlv  sensation,  and  in  its  hicyhest 
evolves  ideas,  that  brain  is,  cdeteris  paribus,  the  most 
highly  developed  which  is  capable  of  responding  to 
few  thoughts  of  others  with  many  of  its  own. 

It  may  not  be  unnecessary  to  caution  the  reader  not 
to  confound  this  question  of  self-determination  with 
that  of  moral  responsibility.  It  may  be  thought,  at 
first  sight,  that  they  are  identical.  But  this  is  not  the 
case.  Responsibility  depends  upon  many  other  factors, 
which  are  beyond  my  purpose  to  consider  here. 

There  are,  undoubtedly,  many  persons  who,  simply 
from  conservative  habits  of  thought,  will  be  unable  to 
accept  the  views  which  have  been  set  forth  in  the  pre- 
ceding chapters.  The  opinions  of  many  such  are  too 
firmly  moulded  by  time  and  education  to  allow  them 
to  change,  no  matter  how  irrefrangible  the  evidence 
offered,  and  they  must  die  in  the  beliefs  in  which 
they  w^ere  born.  Others  there  are  who,  though  anxious 
for  truth  and  ready  to  inquire  into  all  domains  of 
knowledge,  may  likewise  be  deterred,  not  so  much  from 
conservatism  as  by  a  fear  that  in  some  way  the  accept- 
ance of  a  doctrine  may  lead  to  a  limitation  of  mental 
freedom.  Just  as  there  are  many  persons  who  refuse 
to  accept  the  demonstrated  truths  of  evolution,  not 
because  of  the  insufficient  evidence  of  the  truth,  but 
from  a  fear  that  some  of  their  religious  creeds  may  be 
overthrown.    This  sensitiveness  from  religious  scruples 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  147 

in  the  acceptance  of  scientific  doctrines,  which  is  so 
marked  in  all  departments  of  science,  is  particularly 
active  in  inquiries  into  the  problems  offered  by  the 
Mind.  For  myself,  while  I  am  able  to  recognize  the 
force  of  conservatism,  I  am  unable  to  understand  how 
any  right-minded  person,  how  any  one  who  truly  seeks 
after  knowledge,  can  have  any  sympathy  with  those 
who  refuse  to  accept  a  doctrine,  however  strong  may 
be  the  evidence  on  which  it  is  based,  simply  from 
fear  that  when  carried  to  its  logical  consequences,  it 
may  antagonize  preconceived  notions.  The  only  thing 
to  be  dreaded  in  all  such  inquiries  is  that  self-deception 
to  which  the  human  mind  is  prone.  I  believe  our  aim 
should  be  to  seek  the  truth,  and  as  long  as  we  can  be 
assured  we  are  on  the  right  road,  we  should  pursue  it 
wherever  it  may  lead,  and  whatever  may  be  the  result. 
And  if  it  should  happen  that  the  conclusions  to  which 
we  are  led  are  not  in  harmony  with  the  popular  views 
of  the  day,  though  the  fact  may  be  regretted,  our 
results  should  not  for  that  reason  be  discarded. 

In  advocating  that  explanation  of  nervous  phe- 
nomena which  has  been  maintained  in  the  preceding 
chapters,  I  have  been  actuated  by  the  conviction  that 
"  that  theory  is  most  deserving  of  credence  which  ex- 
plains the  greatest  number  of  known  facts,^^  and  I  be- 
lieve it  has  at  least  the  merit  of  being  free  from  the 
mysticism  with  which  all  other  doctrines  are  obscured. 
One  by  one  the  old  supernatural  agents  have  been 
weeded  out  of  our  philosophies.  Formerly,  whatever 
in  nature  was  beyond  the  comprehension  of  the  times 
was  considered  to  have  a  spiritual  cause.  Whatever 
could  not  be  understood  was  accounted  for  by  an  es- 


148  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

sence.  Wood  burned  because  the  essence  fire  entered 
into  the  substance.  Water  was  fluid  because  the  es- 
sence aquosity  permeated  matter.  Gradually^  however, 
as  science  advanced^  these  essences  have  been  gotten  rid 
of  one  by  one,  and  now  but  one  remains.  This  is  mind. 
This,  in  its  turn,  must  go.  It  only  remains  to  decide 
whether  it  shall  be  to-day  or  to-morrow. 


CHAPTER    IV. 

WHAT   IS    MATEKIALISM? 


(( 


But,  as  I  have  endeavored  to  explain  on  other 
occasions/^  says  Professor  Huxley,  "  I  really  have  no 
claim  to  rank  myself  among  fatalistic,  materialistic,  or 
atheistic  philosophers.  Not  among  fatalists,  for  I  take 
the  conception  of  necessity  to  have  a  logical  and  not  a 
physical  foundation  ;  not  among  materialists,  for  I  am 
utterly  incapable  of  conceiving  the  existence  of  matter  if 
there  is  no  mind  in  which  to  picture  that  existence ;  not 
among  atheists,  for  the  problem  of  the  ultimate  cause 
of  existence  is  one  which  seems  to  me  to  be  hopelessly 
out  of  reach  of  my  poor  powers/^  ^  And  ''  we  anti- 
materialists,' '  cries  Mr.  Fiske,  in  the  midst  of  his  un- 
called-for vituperation  against  materialism.  Yet  Hux- 
ley remarks  that  "  thought  is  as  much  a  function  of 
matter  as  motion  is,''  ^  and  Mr.  Fiske's  position  is  very 
much  the  same  as  that  of  others  who  call  themselves 
materialists.     What,  then,  is  materialism  ? 

The  term  materialism  has  no  definite  and  deter- 
mined meaning.  As  soon  as  the  spiritualistic  hypothe- 
sis was  abandoned  as  untenable,  and  it  was  seen,  on 
scientific  as  well  as  philosophical  grounds,  that  the 
forces  of  nature  were  sufficient  to  account  for  the  facts 
of  consciousness  as  well  as  for  that  which  is  unconscious 

^  Fortnightly  Review,  November,  1874. 
2  Lay  Sermons  and  Addresses,  p.  338. 

13*  149 


150  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM, 

in  nature,  all  sorts  of  interpretations  sprung  up  and 
were  adopted  as  explanations  of  mental  facts.-  While 
the  thoughtful  were  slow  to  formulate  any  positive 
opinions  as  to  the  exact  conditions  of  the  problem, 
others,  more  hasty  and  less  philosophical,  have  not  hes- 
itated to  advance  crude  and  ill-digested  dogmas  as  ex- 
planations of  the  mental  world.  But  all  opinions, 
those  of  the  vulgar  and  ignorant  as  well  as  those  of 
the  learned,  have  been  classed  together,  without  dis- 
crimination, as  modern  materialism.  What  is  still 
worse,  the  opponents  of  the  new  philosophy,  without 
stopping  to  distinguish  between  the  good  and  the  bad, 
the  sound  and  the  unsound,  have  at  times  seized  upon 
the  most  extreme  and  unsound  doctrines,  advanced  by 
the  hasty  and  irresponsible  followers  of  the  leaders  in 
thought,  and  held  them  up  to  the  public  gaze  as  repre- 
sentative of  modern  materialism.  Not  only  such  un- 
founded doctrines  as  these,  but  their  own  illogical  de- 
ductions from  scientific  truths,  which  they  could  not, 
or,  what  is  to  be  feared  is  often  the  case,  they  would 
not  understand,  have  been  ascribed  to  those  who  do 
not  hold  them.  Nor  have  the  opponents  of  materi- 
alism taken  the  trouble  to  properly  study  and  under- 
stand the  true  position  of  modern  science,  but  falling 
upon  some  accidental  inexactness  of  expression,  have 
employed  it  as  a  text  to  assail  opinions  which  were 
never  maintained.  It  does  not  make  the  mode  of  at- 
tack any  the  less  dishonest  that  those  who  have  made 
it  have  stood  high  in  public  estimation.  A  false  ma- 
terialism has  thus  been  created,  the  origin  of  which  is 
to  be  found  alone  in  the  minds  of  those  who  have  set 
themselves  up  as  the  champions  of  the  public  virtue. 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  151 

The  term  materialism  has  come  to  be  clothed  with  a 
meaning  which  does  not  belong  to  it,  and  has  been  used 
simply  as  a  term  of  vituperation  and  abuse.  This  has 
led  the  real  exponents  of  the  doctrine  to  repudiate 
opinions  to  which  false  meanings  have  been  attached, 
and  which  have  been  often  wilfully  misunderstood. 

What,  then,  is  a  materialist  ? 

I  conceive  that  there  are  two  positions  upon  either 
one  of  which  we  must  stand,  and  between  which  there 
is  no  half-way  resting-place.  Either  all  the  facts  of 
nature  with  which  we  are  conversant — both  those  of 
the  subjective  world  of  thought  and  of  the  objective 
world  of  things  about  us — are  to  be  referred  to  natural 
forces  for  their  explanation,  or  one  class  of  facts,  the 
subjective,  are  to  be  ascribed  to  a  supernatural  agent, 
leaving  the  objective  world  of  things  for  natural  forces 
alone.  The  former,  under  whatever  interpretation  it 
is  presented,  is  materialism ;  the  latter  is  spiritualism. 
We  must  accept  either  one  or  the  other. 

To  show  that  matter  is  not  what  it  is  supposed  to  be 
by  the  vulgar  and  ignorant,  that  it  is  something  far 
removed  from  the  ordinary  conception  of  it,  is  not  to 
remove  it  in  any  way  from  the  field  of  materialism. 
Nor  by  arbitrarily  limiting  the  term  "  matter"  to  the 
appearances  of  objects,  and  identifying  those  facts 
which  we  call  mind  with  that  substratum  underlying 
these  appearances,  have  we  in  any  way  avoided  the 
consequences  of  materialism.  Showing  that  this  sub- 
stratum is  not  tables  and  chairs  and  sticks  and  stones 
as  we  know  them,  is  not  to  remove  it  from  the  material 
world  and  place  it  in  the  spiritual  world ;  to  do  so  is 
to  invest  spiritualism  with  a  meaning  which  it  does  not 


152  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

possess;  and  yet  this,  if  I  do  not  misunderstand  him,  is 
practically  the  position  of  Mr.  Fiske.  I  dislike  very 
much  to  ascribe  opinions  to  any  writer  for  fear  of 
misrepresenting  him,  and  therefore  I  speak,  as  Mr. 
Fiske  himself  has  said,  "  subject  to  correction,^^  and  I 
am  the  more  timid  in  this  respect  because  the  history 
of  philosophy  has  shown  that  it  is  the  peculiar  fate  of - 
writers  on  abstruse  subjects  to  be  misunderstood. 

As  long  as  anything  is  the  resultant  of  the  forces 
of  nature  it  belongs  to  materialism.  Spiritualism,  on 
the  other  hand,  has  always  been  understood  to  refer  to 
something  that  is  supernatural  and  is  not  conditioned 
by  the  laws  of  nature.  To  show,  then,  that  matter  is 
something  else  than  what  we  have  supposed  it  to  be,  is 
not  to  remove  it  to  the  realms  of  spiritualism,  for  it  is 
still  something  which  is  conditioned  by  natural  laws. 
And  consequently  because  we  have  reason  to  believe 
that  mind  is  identical  with  this  real  matter  (or  an 
''  aspect^^  (?)  of  it),  and  is  not  identical  with  the  vulgar 
conception  of  matter,  we  do  not  in  any  way  escape 
from  the  bonds  of  materialism.  Every  one  knows  that 
thought  is  not  stones,  or  sticks,  or  horses,  or  dogs,  or 
even  physical  vibrations,  or  neural  undulations;  "it 
needs  no  ghost  (or  philosopher),  my  lord,  to  tell  us  this.'^ 
But  thought  may  be  identical  with  the  substratum  un- 
derlying certain  physical  vibrations,  and  any  doctrine 
which  accepts  this,  express  it  in  any  words  you  please, 
is  materialism.  Any  doctrine  which  rests  content  with 
nature,  and  does  not  introduce  any  supernatural  element, 
is  materialism. 

By  showing  that  there  is  something  in  nature  more 
potent   than   we    have   ever    conceived   of,  something 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  I53 

which  is  beyond  the  powers  of  our  poor  senses  to  ap- 
prehend in  its  reality,  materialism  elevates  our  concep- 
tion of  matter  and  our  appreciation  of  the  powers  of 
nature.  This  is  a  sufficient  task.  Unfortunately,  we 
have  all  been  taught  to  look  upon  matter  as  something 
inert  and  base.  In  this  we  have  seen  only  with  our 
eyes,  and  have  not  looked  behind  the  appearances  of 
things.  Behind  them  nature  herself  lies  concealed, 
and  when  she  has  shown  herself  to  us  in  her  nakedness 
and  without  disguise  in  the  form  of  our  thoughts,  we 
have  failed  to  recognize  her,  and  mistaken  her  for  a 
supernatural  goblin. 

We  now  know,  thanks  to  science  and  philosophy, 
that  matter  is  no  longer  the  dead  and  senseless  thing  it 
is  popularly  supposed  to  be.  We  know  that  the  so- 
called  properties  of  matter,  the  shape,  the  color,  the 
hardness,  and  other  qualities  of  objects,  do  not  exist 
outside  of  our  own  minds,  but  that  objects  as  known 
to  us  are  merely  forms  of  our  own  consciousness.  Yet, 
though  this  be  true,  we  also  know  that  besides  these 
forms  of  our  own  consciousness,  there  is  something 
else,  which  exists  outside  of  them,  and  is  the  cause 
of  them;  that  this  something  else  consists  of  *^ ac- 
tivities'^ or  ^^  forces'^  of  an  unknown  nature,  and  that 
these  activities  constitute  the  real  object,  the  thing-in- 
itself.  Objects,  as  we  know  them,  are  only  sensations 
or  modes  of  consciousness  by  which  we  apprehend  these 
external  activities,  or,  in  other  words,  the  reaction  of 
our  organism  to  these  forces. 

Matter,  then,  may  embrace  at  least  two  conceptions 
(page  33),  subjective  matter  and  objective  matter, — 
the   latter   being   the    real   thing,    though    unknown. 


154  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

Though  we  cannot  picture  to  our  mmds  the  nature  of 
these  external  forces^  which  must  be  forever  unknown 
to  us^  Evohition  teaches  us  that  they  must  be  allied  in 
nature  to  consciousness.  The  elemental  forces  which 
underlie  the  functions  of  the  organic  world  are  the  same 
as  those  which  underlie  the  properties  of  the  inorganic 
world.  The  reality  of  the  carbon  atom  is  the  same 
whether  it  occur  combined  with  two  atoms  of  oxygen 
simply  in  the  form  of  carbonic  acid  gas,  or  whether  it 
be  joined  with  many  atoms  of  carbon,  oxygen,  hydro- 
gen, and  nitrogen  in  the  form  of  a  molecule  of  vital 
protoplasm.  And  the  difference  of  properties  and 
functions  depends  upon  the  greater  or  less  complexity 
of  the  groupings  of  the  elemental  Realities.  Finally, 
as  we  ascend  in  the  scale  of  animal  life,  bv  more  com- 
pFex  grouping  of  these  elemental  forces  the  first  germs 
of  consciousness  arise,  which  reaches  its  highest  devel- 
opment in  the  brain  of  man.^ 

The  whole  universe,  then,  instead  of  being  inert  is 
made  up  of  living  forces;  not  conscious,  because  con- 
sciousness does  not  result  till  a  certain  complexity  of 
organization  appears,  but,  using  figurative  language,  it 
may  be  said  to  be  pseudo-conscious.  It  is  made  up  of 
the  elements  of  consciousness.  It  is  to  these  forces  that 
are  due  the  phenomena  of  the  inorganic  world,  of  life  and 
of  Mind.  And  when  we  reduce  the  problems  of  life 
and  mind  to  terms  of  this  matter,  we  deal  with  mate- 
rialism. Any  doctrine  which  recognizes  these  truths 
in   this   or  some  modified  form  still   remains,  in   my 

^  See  note  to  page  69.  Clifford,  I  think,  was  the  first  to  clearly 
recognize  and  formulate  this  principle,  though  glimpses  of  it  may 
have  been  caught  by  others. 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  I55 

judgment^  materialism.     Matter  is  elevated  to  a  higher 
rank,  but  it  is  still  matter. 

But  after  everything  has  been  reduced  to  its  lowest 
terms^  after  everything  has  been  shown  to  be  dependent 
upon  the  inherent  forces  of  nature  and  the  resultant 
of  material  conditions,  have  the  dignity  and  attributes 
of  anything  that  exists  been  in  any  way  detracted  from  ? 
Because  man  has  been  shown  to  be  the  last  and  higliest 
expression  in  the  order  of  development  of  nature,  and 
the  final  resultant  of  those  natural  forces  which  have 
produced  all  other  forms  of  life,  have  his  dignity  and 
powers  as  man  been  in  any  way  impaired?  And  be- 
cause mind,  the  chef  dfceuvre  of  creation  and  final 
product  of  vital  forces  has  been  shown  to  be  the  out- 
come of  the  same  material  conditions  as  other  vital 
phenomena,  have  its  qualities  been  in  any  way  im- 
paired? Though  science  and  philosophy  may  discover 
the  causation  and  origin  of  phenomena,  it  cannot  by  so 
doing  alter  by  a  hair^s  breadth  those  phenomena  them- 
selves and  make  them  what  they  are  not.  We  may 
determine  the  elements  of  which  any  given  product  is 
composed^  and  ascertain  the  conditions  by  which  it  has 
arisen,  but  we  cannot  through  such  an  analysis  show 
that  product  to  be  anything  else  than  what  it  is.  The 
direction  and  energy  of  any  force  is  not  in  any  way 
changed  by  the  discovery  of  the  elementary  forces  of 
which  it  is  the  resultant. 

Is  the  sparkle  of  a  diamond  any  the  less  brilliant, 
or  is  the  stone  less  valuable,  because  the  chemist  tells 
us,  as  a  result  of  his  analysis,  it  is  nothing  but  carbon? 
The  pessimist  may  tell  us  from  the  gloom  of  his  half- 
fledged  materialism  that  Raphael's  great  picture,  the 


156  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM, 

Sistine  Madonna^  is  after  all  nothing  but  paint  and 
canvas,  nothing  but  a  conglomeration  of  yellow  ochre, 
and  Prussian  blue,  and  copper  green  and  red,  spread 
upon  some  twisted  and  interwoven  strands  of  flax. 
But  after  he  has  told  us  this,  interesting  possibly  from 
a  teclmical  point  of  view  if  we  did  not  know  it  before, 
he  has  not  in  any  way  detracted  from  the  beauty  of 
the  picture.  The  picture  is  not  yellow  ochre  nor 
Prussian  blue,  nor  any  other  of  these  elements  he  has 
detailed,  but  the  resultant  of  their  combined  prop- 
erties, so  combined  that  the  final  product  is  the  ma- 
terialized image  of  the  great  artistes  conception  fixed 
indelibly  for  all  time.  You  may  analyze  the  substance 
of  the  work  till  you  have  reduced  it  to  its  lowest 
chemical  and  physical  terms,  to  a  final  conglomeration 
of  atoms,  but  when  you  have  finished  there  stands  the 
picture  as  beautiful  and  as  grand  as  ever,  unaltered  in 
a  single  line  by  your  analysis  and  its  color  undimmed 
in  a  single  spot.  The  picture  is  what  it  is,  no  matter 
what  the  elements  may  be  which  compose  its  sub- 
stance; the  resultant  of  all  these  forces  is  the  picture, 
the  finished  whole. 

And  so  it  is  with  man.  By  showing  that  man  has 
been  slowly  evolved  through  natural  forces  from  the 
lowest  forms  of  animal  life,  his  powers  and  qualities  as 
man  have  not  been  impaired  in  a  single  respect.  There 
are  some  who  fear,  because  the  tradition  has  been  out- 
grown whereby  man  came  upon  the  earth  as  a  sudden 
and  miraculous  act  of  creation  and  was  deposited  in 
a  paradise  where  everything  was  prepared  for  his 
wants,  that  thereby  his  dignity  as  man  is  in  some  way 
detracted  from.     Just  as  there  are  some  people  who, 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  157 

though  by  their  superior  abilities  they  have  raised 
themselves  above  their  fellow-beings  and  surpassed 
them  in  the  race  of  life,  are  nevertheless  ashamed  of 
the  lowly  position  from  which  they  started  ;  forgetting 
that  this  very  fact  proves  their  superiority  and  renders 
their  talents  more  conspicuous.  It  is  this  very  disad- 
vantage at  the  beginning  which  should  make  thorn 
more  proud  of  their  success  at  the  end.  And  so  in  the 
progress  of  evolution  on  this  world^  the  fact  that  man 
is  the  highest  and  culminating  expression  of  nature 
should  render  us  proud  of  our  pre-eminence  and  of  the 
exalted  position  we  occupy. 

And  when  we  pass  to  those  faculties  which  distin- 
guish man  from  all  other  forms  of  creation,  and  make 
him  facile  princeps, — his  mental  characteristics, — are 
his  intellectual  or  moral  qualities  in  any  way  belittled 
when  it  is  discovered  that  these  qualities  are  also  the 
products  of  natural  forces,  and  are  the  result  of  the 
laws  of  evolution?  Though  we  may  show  that  the 
highest  flights  of  the  intellect,  the  dramas  of  Shake- 
speare, the  great  Cathedral  of  St.  Peter  of  Michael 
Angelo,  and  the  Madonna  of  Raphael,  are  but  the  ex- 
pression of  natural  forces,  we  do  not  in  any  way  detract 
from  the  grandeur  and  beauty  of  the  work.  Nor  is 
the  greatness  of  moral  laws  in  any  way  impaired  by 
the  discovery  that  they  also  owe  their  existence  to  the 
slow  forces  of  evolution,  and  have  been  dependent  upon 
the  organic  development  of  the  brain.  Though  their 
germs  may  be  found  in  the  psychological  and  physio- 
logical laws  governing  the  lowest  races  of  mankind, 
nay,  further,  in  the  lower  orders  of  animals,  the  moral 

laws  themselves  are  as  dominant  and  sublime  as  though 

14 


158  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

they  were  the  express  laws  of  a  Creator  given  alone  to 
man  in  his  most  developed  state. 

^^Do  not  unto  others  what  ye  would  not  that  they 
should  do  unto  you'^  is  no  less  grand  in  its  conception 
because  it  is  the  resultant  of  material  conditions.  The 
lover  will  not  sigh  any  the  less  '^  like  a  furnace'^  be- 
cause you  inform  him  his  love  is  only  the  reality  of 
molecular  disturbances  in  his  brain.  We  do  not  in  any 
way  soften  the  grief  of  the  mother  who  mourns  the 
loss  of  her  first-born  by  telling  her  that  her  grief  is  the 
product  of  material  factors^  nor  is  our  sympathy  in  any 
way  lessened  by  the  knowledge.  She  will  tell  you  she 
knows  nothing  of  all  this,  only  that  the  life  that  is  gone 
will  never  return  again. 

Our  thoughts,  our  feelings,  our  hopes,  our  griefs,  our 
pleasures,  and  our  pains  are  the  same  and  as  we  know 
them,  whether  their  origin  be  found  in  matter  or  in  a 
spirit. 

But  there  is  one  respect  in  which  materialism  is  far 
more  elevating  than  any  other  doctrine.  It  is  this. 
Though  materialism  may,  in  the  opinion  of  some 
people,  degrade  man  from  the  lofty  position  which,  in 
his  pride  and  arrogance,  he  had  assumed  for  himself, 
and  relegate  him  to  a  lowlier  one  at  the  head  of  the 
brute  creation,  it,  on  the  other  hand,  elevates  the  latter 
to  a  higher  station  and  extends  the  hand  of  sym|)athy 
to  suffering,  whether  in  man  or  animal.  Materialism 
teaches  us  that  the  animals,  though  not  so  highly  de- 
veloped as  ourselves,  still  differ  from  us  only  in  degree, 
however  great  that  degree  may  be.  It  teaches  us  that 
though  their  thoughts  may  not  be  as  complex  and  ex- 
tensive as  our  own,  they  still  have  thoughts.     That 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  I59 

they  have  emotions  and  sensations,  pleasures  and  pains, 
like  ourselves,  and  the  lash  of  the  whip  stings  as  smartly 
as  when  applied  to  our  own  backs. 

Materialism  teaches  us  that,  however  lowly,  they 
belong  to  our  kith  and  kin,  and  though  it  may  be 
necessary  and  proper  that  man  should  hold  dominion 
over  them,  it  should  be  exercised  with  clemency  and 
discrimination.  There  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  belief 
that  man  is  not  only  superior  to  the  brute,  but  belongs 
to  a  supernatural  order  of  beings,  has  tended  to  lessen 
our  sympathy  for  these  lower  forms  of  creation,  and 
blunt  our  sensibilities  regarding  them.  The  belief  has 
become  too  general  that  the  animal  is  not  only  a 
machine,  but  an  insensible  machine,  and  it  too  often 
happens  that  our  sympathy  remains  untouched,  even 
though  the  dog  may  lick  the  hand  that  slays  it  with  the 
knife. 

J^or  will  the  morality  of  materialism  compare  un- 
favorably with  that  of  any  other  philosophy.  Materi- 
alism does  not  destroy  morality,  it  merely  seeks  a  new 
source  for  its  origin.  It  is  a  fact,  which  no  amount  of 
analysis  or  scientific  investigation  can  negative,  that  we 
have  in  us  certain  ideas  and  feelings,  which  we  call 
principles, — moral  principles.  You  may  call  these 
laws  of  thought  if  you  please,  but  the  class  to  which 
they  belong  we  call  moral.  Under  any  other  name 
they  would  be  as  real  and  as  influential  in  determining 
our  actions  as  that  designated  by  the  term  morality. 
It  is  an  interesting  study  to  inquire  into  the  conditions 
which  have  given  rise  to  these  laws  of  thought,  and 
this  science  does,  by  investigating  not  only  human 
nature  as  it  existed  in  historic  and,  so  far  as  is  pos- 


160  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

sible^  in  prehistoric  times,  and  attempting  to  follow  its 
development  step  by  step  to  the  present  time,  however 
imperfectly  this  can  be  done,  but  also  by  a  compara- 
tive study  of  the  lower  animals,  and  of  the  numerous 
savage  and  lower  races  of  men  which  inhabit  the 
various  portions  of  the  earth  to-day.  As  moral  laws 
are  really  psychological  laws,  this  becomes  a  compara- 
tive and  historical  psychology. 

While  the  spiritualist  accounts  for  these  laws  on  the 
principle  of  intuition,  or,  in  other  words,  by  presup- 
posing the  existence  of  innate  ideas  of  right  and 
wrong,  duty,  etc.,  which,  already  developed  and  per- 
fected, have  been  implanted  in  the  mind  by  a  Creator, 
the  scientific  inquirer  after  truth,  rejecting  any  such 
lazy  and  unintelligent  method  of  explaining  the  origin 
of  phenomena,  seeks  an  explanation  in  natural  con- 
ditions alone.  We  will  not  here  notice  the  miscon- 
struction and  personal  abuse  to  which  the  latter  thus 
exposes  himself,  and  that,  too,  simply  because  he  pre- 
fers truth,  however  shocking  it  may  be  to  his  earlier 
sentiments  and  beliefs,  to  the  superstitious  and  igno- 
rant dogmas  of  passionate  partisans.  I  do  not  pro- 
pose to  enter  here  into  anything  of  a  polemical  nature, 
and,  least  of  all,  to  say  anything  which  may  jar  upon 
the  sentiments  of  any  one,  but  to  discuss  the  matter 
before  us  in  a  straightforward  and  philosophical 
way,  without  regard  to  preconceived  opinions  and 
feelings. 

But  while  the  scientific  investigator  seeks  in  this 
direction  an  explanation  of  these  moral  facts,  he  does 
not  in  any  way  attempt  to  deny  the  existence  of  the 
facts  themselves.     On  the  contrary,  his  very  inquiries 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM  1(]1 

presuppose  their  existence,  for  which  indeed  he   en- 
deavors to  account. 

That  the  individual  does  possess  moral  principles  is 
a  psychological  fact,  and  the  belief  in  their  validity  is 
as  cogent  in  regulating  and  governing  our  conduct, 
whether  the  origin  of  such  moral  beliefs  shall  be  found 
in  a  slow  psychological  evolution  through  the  force  of 
the  principle  of  utility,  sympathy,  or  other  equally 
efficient  force,  or  in  a  special  act  of  creation  by  which 
they  become  attributes  of  a  spiritual  essence.  And  it 
is  perfectly  evident  that  a  moral  principle,  which  has 
become  evolved  and  recognized  as  desirable,  may  be 
impressed  upon  the  mind  by  education,  and  so  firmly 
implanted  there  through  the  law  of  association  of  ideas 
as  to  become  a  dominant  factor  in  modifying  the  con- 
duct of  the  individual.  When  once  ideas  have  become 
strongly  bound  together  by  association, — and  this  is 
what  moral  principles  are, — they  exert  a  powerful  influ- 
ence over  our  actions  and  thoughts,  and  are  not  easily 
overcome  by  other  feelings.  In  this  respect  they  are 
like  all  other  associations  of  ideas,  the  influence  of 
which  may  be  seen  in  political  and  religious  beliefs,  in 
our  prejudices  and  other  notions.  And  so  strong  may 
the  influence  of  moral  principles  become  from  this 
cause  that  they  may  still  continue  to  direct  the  conduct, 
though  other  processes  of  reasoning  may  logically  con- 
vince us  of  the  want  of  validity  of  the  principles.  Thus 
even  those  who  are  honestly  convinced  of  the  absence 
of  anything  obligatory  in  duty  and  other  principles  of 
ethics,  still  allow  their  conduct  to  be  influenced  by  these 
notions,  for  the  reason  that  by  the  time  they  have  reached 
an  age  to  think  about  such  matters,  their  character  has 
I  14^ 


162  HUM  A  N  A  UTOMA  TISM. 

become  so  formed  that  they  can  only  act  in  opposition 
to  it  at  the  expense  of  their  mental  happiness.  These 
moral  principles  have  then  become  automatic,  as  it  were. 
When  this  is  the  case,  the  same  tendency  to  similar 
thought  becomes  transmitted  to  the  offspring,  who  thus 
tends  to  inherit  the  same  association  of  ideas  or  moral 
principles  possessed  by  the  parents,  just  as  children 
inherit  the  ordinary  peculiarities  of  character  of  the 
parents.  In  this  respect,  then,  moral  laws  become  in- 
nate or  intuitive.  However,  it  is  a  fact  which  cannot  be 
gainsaid,  that  for  the  existence  of  moral  principles  it  is 
requisite  that  the  brain  shall  have  acquired  a  certain 
degree  of  development.  I  think  it  will  be  found  that 
moral  principles  become  recognized  as  standards,  even 
if  not  realized  in  practice,  in  direct  proportion  to  the 
capacity  of  the  mind  to  originate  abstract  ideas,  and 
that  in  the  lower  races  only  a  very  low  standard  of 
ethics  can  prevail  among  those  people  whose  minds  do 
not  rise  above  the  conception  of  specific  objects.  Some 
of  the  tribes  of  Oceanica  and  Australia  have  words  for 
particular  trees,  as  walnut-tree  or  beech-tree,  etc.,  but 
none  for  a  tree  in  the  abstract.  Such  people  cannot 
possess  any  abstract  notion  of  a  tree  or  any  other  object 
or  quality. 

It  has  been  said  that  the  "  lowest  among  the  Ocean- 
eans  and  Africans  (as  the  aboriginal  Australians,  the 
South  Sea  negroes,  Bushmen,  Central  Africans,  etc.) 
are  entirely  destitute  of  general  ideas  or  abstract  notions. 
Past  and  future  concern  them  not.  The  Australian 
has  no  words  to  express  the  ideas  of  God,  religion, 
righteousness,  sin,  etc.  He  knows  almost  no  other 
sensation  than  the  need  of  food,  which  he  endeavors  in 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  163 

every  way  to  satisfy^  and  makes  known  to  the  traveller 
by  grimaces.  ^In  them  the  capability  of  considering 
and  inferring/  says  Hale  (Natives  of  Australia,  1846), 
'  appears  to  be  very  imperfectly  developed.  The  reasons 
which  the  colonists  use  in  order  to  convince  or  persuade 
them  are  mostly  such  as  are  employed  with  children 
and  half  imbeciles.^  ^^  ^ 

To  have  any  code  of  ethics  which  shall  approach  the 
standard  set  by  civilized  nations,  whether  these  nations 
be  composed  of  Christians  or  Buddhists,  it  is  essential 
that  the  mind  shall  be  sufficiently  developed  to  conceive 
of  abstract  notions,  such  as  ideas  of  right  and  wrong, 
etc.,  and  no  religion  can  arise  till  the  mind  is  capable 
of  entertaining  the  idea  of  causation,  etc. 

The  animals  are  probably  content  with  the  simple  fact 
of  existence,  and  never  seek  to  know  the  reason  or  cause 
for  that  existence,  the  why  or  the  how.  They  accept 
the  fact  without  the  idea  ever  entering  their  minds  of 
inquiring  further.  The  lowest  races  of  men  differ  from 
the  brutes  very  slightly  in  this  respect.  "  I  frequently 
inquired  of  the  negroes,^^  says  Park,  "  what  became  of 
the  sun  during  the  night,  and  whether  we  should  see 
the  same  sun  or  a  different  one  in  the  morning,  but  I 
found  that  they  considered  the  question  as  very  childish. 
The  subject  appeared  to  them  as  placed  beyond  the  reach 
of  human  investigation;  they  had  never  indulged  a  con- 
jecture nor  formed  any  hypothesis  about  the  matter.^'  ^ 

"  A  friend  of  Mr.  Lang's  ^  tried  long  and  patiently 
to    make  a  very  intelligent,  docile,  Australian    black 

1  Buchner,  Man  in  the  Past,  Present,  and  Future.  Eng* 
Trans.,  p.  313. 

2  Lubbock's  Origin  of  Civilization,  Amer.  ed.,  p.  5. 


164  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM. 

understand  his  existence  without  a  body,  but  the  black 
never  could  keep  his  countenance,  and  generally  made 
an  excuse  to  get  away.  One  day  the  teacher  watched, 
and  found  that  he  went  to  have  a  hearty  fit  of  laughter 
at  the  absurdity  of  the  idea  of  a  man  living  and  going 
about  without  arms,  legs,  or  mouth  to  eat ;  for  a  long 
time  he  could  not  believe  that  the  gentleman  was  serious, 
and  when  he  did  realize  it,  the  more  serious  the  teacher 
was,  the  more  ludicrous  the  whole  affair  appeared  to  the 
black/ ^^^  With  a  mind  of  such  a  character  it  is  appa- 
rent that  no  religion  worthy  of  the  name  could  be  con- 
ceived of,  nor  could  we  expect  to  find  any  moral  prin- 
ciples of  an  exalted  nature  in  force  among  such  people. 
Whatever  principles  they  may  have  must  conduce  only 
to  the  gratification  of  the  appetites  and  passions. 

'^  The  aborigines  of  New  Caledonia,  akin  to  the  Feji- 
Islanders,  and  belonging  to  the  Papuan  group,  have, 
according  to  Van  Rochas,  no  shame,  go  quite  naked, 
and  indulge  in  a  number  of  excesses  of  the  basest  kind. 
They  have  intelligence  as  the  beasts,  but  no  moral  emo- 
tions, are  faithless  in  the  highest  degree,  perjured,  crafty, 
will  strike  any  one  down  from  behind,  are  cannibals, 
eating  not  merely  their  enemies,  but  even  their  own 
relatives,  can  only  with  difficulty  count  the  lowest 
numbers,  use  strong  abortives,  and  bury  the  aged  alive. 
If  a  chief  is  hungry,  he  straightw^ay  knocks  down  one 
of  his  subjects.''  ^ 

^^The  Australians,''  says  a  lady  who  emigrated  to 
Australia,  ^^live  quite  naked  in  huts  of  bark,  in  which 

1  Lubbock's  Origin  of  Civilization,  Amer.  ed.,  p.  245. 

2  Biichner,  op.  cit.,  p.  315. 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  165 

they  sleep  with  their  dogs.  They  eat  anything, — in- 
sects, serpents,  worms,  roots,  berries,  etc., — have  no 
fixed  dwelling-place,  and  are  quite  incapable  of  civili- 
zation. The  missionaries  have  long  given  up  every 
attempt  to  civilize  them,  for  if  one  baptize  them  it  has 
no  more  effect  than  the  baptism  of  a  dog  or  a  horse ; 
they  understand  nothing  of  the  signification  of  the  act. 
Marriages  are  very  loose,  infanticide  is  universal,  the 
aged  are  put  to  death.  They  live  only  in  the  present, 
and  think  neither  of  the  past  nor  the  future.  They 
cannot  be  taught  any  principles.  They  are  dead  to 
all  morality.  They  know  no  sentiment,  no  spiritual 
life,  no  love,  no  gratitude,  but  only  unbridled  passion, 
and  the  sense  of  their  nothingness  against  the  white 
races.^^  ^ 

But  there  is  one  mistake  easy  to  fall  into  in  consider- 
ing the  state  of  morality  of  communities,  and  this  is  to 
assume,  because  of  the  absence  in  the  lower  races  of  the 
moral  laws  which  prevail  among  highly  civilized  na- 
tions, that  therefore  the  former  are  totally  lacking  in 
morality.  On  the  contrary,  they  often  have  laws 
which  though  to  us  seemingly  absurd  and  without  rea- 
son, and  not  existing  among  civilized  peoples,  yet  be- 
long to  the  moral  class,  and  prohibit,  under  the  most 
stringent  punishment,  practices  which  are  perfectly 
justifiable  under  our  systems  of  government  and  codes 
of  ethics.  For  example,  among  those  nations  which 
practice  exogomy,  that  is,  marriage  only  with  individ- 
uals of  a  foreign  tribe,  marriage  within  the  tribe  is  re- 
garded as  incest,  and  is  punishable  with  death.     This 

1  Biichner,  op.  cit.,  p.  314. 


166  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM, 

is  the  case  among  the  Kurnai^  in  Australia.  Such 
people  would  regard  our  practice  of  marrying  within 
our  own  caste  or  nationality  as  highly  immoral  and  in- 
cestuous. One  rather  amusing  custom  among  these 
people  and,  strangely  enough,  quite  commonly  diffused 
among  similar  tribes  throughout  the  globe,  is  that  of 
forbidding  all  social  intercourse  between  mother-in-law 
and  son-in-law.^  After  marriage  the  son-in-law  is  not 
allowed  even  to  speak  to  his  mother-in-law. 

Numerous  other  customs  of  a  more  important  char- 
acter, and  which  exert  considerable  influence  upon  the 
character  of  the  race,  might  be  mentioned  as  prevalent 
among  various  races  low  in  the  scale  of  development. 

Mr.  Galbraith,  who  lived  for  many  years,  as  Indian 
agent,  among  the  Sioux  (North  America),  thus  describes 
them :  they  are  ''  bigoted,  barbarous,  and  exceedingly 
superstitious.  They  regard  most  of  the  vices  as  vir- 
tues. Theft,  arson,  rape,  and  murder  are  among  them 
regarded  as  the  means  of  distinction ;  and  the  young 

1  ''  The  Kamilaroi  and  Kurnai,"  by  Lorimer  Howitt  and  A.  W. 
Fison. 

2  "  A  Brabotung,  who  is  a  member  of  the  Church  of  England, 
was  one  day  talking  to  me.  His  wife's  mother  was  passing  at 
some  little  distance,  and  I  called  to  her.  Suffering  at  the  time 
from  cold,  I  could  not  make  her  hear,  and  said  to  the  Brabotung, 
'  Call  Mary,  I  want  to  speak  to  her.'  He  took  no  notice  what- 
ever, but  looked  vacantly  on  the  ground.  I  spoke  to  him  again 
sharply,  but  still  without  his  responding.  I  then  said,  '  What  do 
you  mean  by  taking  no  notice  of  me?'  He  thereupon  called  out 
to  his  wife's  brother,  who  was  at  a  little  distance,  '  Tell  Mary 
Mr.  Howitt  wants  her.'  And  turning  to  me,  continued,  reproach- 
fully, *  You  know  very  well  I  could  not  do  that ;  you  know 
I  cannot  speak  to  that  old  woman.'  " — Kamilaroi  and  Kurnai^ 
p.  203. 


1 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  167 

Indian  from  childhood  is  taught  to  regard  killing  as 
the  highest  of  virtues.  In  their  dances,  and  at  their 
feasts,  the  warriors  recite  their  deeds  of  theft,  pillage, 
and  slaughter  as  precious  things;  and  the  highest,  in- 
deed, the  only  ambition  of  a  young  brave  is  to  secure 
'  the  feather,^  which  is  but  a  record  of  his  having 
murdered  or  participated  in  the  murder  of  some  human 
being, — whether  man,  woman,  or  child,  it  is  immaterial . 
and  after  he  has  secured  his  first  '  feather,'  appetite  is 
whetted  to  increase  the  number  in  his  cap,  as  an  Indian 
brave  is  estimated  by  the  number  of  his  feathers/^  ^ 

These  Indians  it  is  evident  had  moral  laws,  though 
they  were  of  a  very  opposite  standard  from  our  own. 
It  was  probably  a  moral  law  which  induced  the  Spar- 
tans as  well  as  savages  to  destroy  the  sickly  children. 

The  extent  to  which  some  of  the  lower  races  will 
sacrifice  their  own  feelings  to  their  sense  of  duty,  how- 
ever distorted 'the  latter  may  appear  to  us,  is  not  often 
surpassed  by  more  civilized  people. 

''  The  Feejeeans  believe  that  '  as  they  die  such  will 
be  their  condition  in  another  w-orld ;  hence  their  desire 
to  escape  extreme  infirmity.^  The  way  to  Mbulu,  as 
already  mentioned,  is  long  and  difficult ;  many  always 
perish,  and  no  diseased  or  infirm  person  could  possibly 
succeed  in  surmounting  all  the  dangers  of  the  road. 
Hence  as  soon  as  a  man  feels  the  approach  of  old  age, 
he  notifies  to  his  children  that  it  is  time  for  him  to  die. 
If  he  neglects  to  do  so,  the  children  after  a  while  take 
the  matter  into  their  own  hands.  A  family  consulta- 
tion is  held,  a  day  appointed,  and  the  grave  dug.     The 

1  Lubbock's  Origin  of  Civilization. 


168  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM, 

aged  person  has  his  choice  of  b:^Ing  sti angled  or  buried 
alive.  Mr.  Hunt  gives  the  following  striking  descrip- 
tion of  such  a  ceremony  once  witnessed  by  him.  A 
young  man  came  to  him  and  invited  him  to  attend  his 
mother's  funeral^  which  was  just  going  to  take  place. 
Mr.  Hunt  accepted  the  invitation  and  joined  the  proces- 
sion^ but  surprised  to  see  no  corpse,  he  made  inquiries, 
when  the  young  man  ^pointed  out  his  mother,  who  was 
walking  along  with  them  as  gay  and  lively  as  any  of 
those  present,  and  apparently  as  much  pleased.  Mr. 
Hunt  expressed  his  surprise  to  the  young  man,  and 
asked  him  how  he  could  deceive  him  so  much  by  say- 
ing his  mother  was  dead,  when  she  was  alive  and  well. 
He  said,  in  reply,  that  they  had  made  her  death-feast, 
and  were  now  going  to  bury  her;  that  she  was  old, 
that  his  brother  and  himself  had  thought  she  had  lived 
long  enough,  and  it  was  time  to  bury  her,  to  which  she 
had  willingly  consented,  and  they  were  about  it  now. 
He  had  come  to  Mr.  Hunt  to  ask  his  prayers,  as  they 
did  those  of  the  priest. 

'' '  He  added  that  it  was  from  love  for  his  mother  that 
he  had  done  so ;  that  in  consequence  of  the  same  love, 
they  were  now  going  to  bury  her,  and  that  none  but 
themselves  could  or  ought  to  do  such  a  sacred  office ! 
Mr.  Hunt  did  all  in  his  power  to  prevent  so  diabolical 
an  act;  but  the  only  reply  he  received  was  that  she 
was  their  mother,  and  they  were  her  children,  and  they 
ought  to  put  her  to  death.  On  reaching  the  grave,  the 
mother  sat  down,  when  they  all,  including  children, 
grandchildren,  relations,  and  friends,  took  an  affection- 
ate leave  of  her;  a  rope  made  of  twisted  tapa  was  then 
passed  twice  around  her  neck  by  her  sons,  who  took 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  169 

hold  of  it  and  strangled  her;  after  which  she  was  put 
in  her  grave,  with  the  usual  ceremonies. 

''  So  general  was  this  custom  that  in  one  town  contain- 
ing several  hundred  inhabitants  Captain  Wilkes  did 
not  see  one  man  over  forty  years  of  age,  all  the  old 
people  having  been  buried/^  ^ 

On  the  other  hand,  as  Lubbock  has  pointed  out,  a 
state  of  society  where  vice  and  crime  are  absent  do  not 
necessarily  indicate  a  high  moral  standard.  It  may 
simply  be  due  to  negative  virtue,  to  an  absence  of  any 
inducement  to  commit  crime,  or  to  a  mind  so  imper- 
fectly developed  as  to  be  devoid  of  appetites  or  a  desire 
to  gratify  them.  Such  persons  can  no  more  be  praised 
for  virtue  than  can  tlie  domestic  cow  be  deserving  of 
reward  for  refraining  from  murder  or  other  human 
vices. 

For  the  conception  of  a  code  of  morality  similar  to 
that  embraced  by  Christianity  and  Buddhism,  there  is 
required  a  brain  of  high  organization.  Though  the 
converse  is  not  true,  that  a  highly  organized  brain  im- 
plies a  high  standard  of  morality,  it  only  signifies  the 
possibility  of  such  a  standard.  There  are  large  num- 
bers of  other  conditions,  those  embraced  under  the 
social  and  political  forces  which  determine  the  nature 
of  the  moral  code  in  force  among  any  people  at  any 
particular  epoch.  These  conditions  are  beyond  our 
purpose  to  consider  here,  but  I  would  call  attention  to 
the  fact  that  a  distinction  must  be  drawn  between  the 
theoretical  and  practical  morality  of  a  community,  be- 
tween the  moral  principles  exemplified  in  the  life  of 

^  Lubbock's  Origin  of  Civilization,  p.  248. 
H  16 


1 70  HUMAN  A  UTOMA  TISM, 

the  masses  of  the  people  and  that  standard  advocated 
and  practised  only  by  the  moral  specialists.  Just  as 
at  a  time  when  the  pagan  Greeks  were  worshipping 
their  false  gods,  the  philosopher  wise  above  his  time, 
six  hundred  centuries  before  the  birth  of  Christ,  smiled 
at  the  simplicity  and  credulity  of  his  fellows  while  he 
sang : 

'*  There  is  one  God  supreme  over  all  gods,  diviner  than  mortals, 
Whose  form  is  not  like  unto  man's,  and  as  unlike  his  nature; 
"  But  vain  mortals  imagine  that  gods  like  themselves  are  be- 
gotten, 
With  human  sensations  and  voice  and  corporeal  members ; 
*'  So,  if  oxen  or  lions  had   hands  that  could  work  in   man's 
fashion, 
And  trace  out  with  chisel  or  brush  their  conception  of  god- 
head. 
Then  would  horses  depict  gods  like  horses,  and  oxen  like  oxen. 
Each  kind  the  divine  with  its  own  form  and  nature  endow- 
ing."! 

In  estimating  the  moral  condition  of  a  people,  as 
Lecky  has  well  remarked,  it  is  necessary  to  consider 
both  the  moral  code  advocated  as  a  standard  and  the 
actual  habits  of  the  people  themselves.^ 

1  Xenophanes  of  Colophon. 

2  "  In  estimating,  however,  the  moral  condition  of  an  age,  it 
is  not  sufficient  to  examine  the  ideal  of  moralists.  It  is  neces- 
sary, also,  to  inquire  how  far  that  ideal  has  been  realized  among 
the  people.  The  corruption  of  a  nation  is  often  reflected  in  the 
indulgent  and  selfish  ethics  of  its  teachers  ;  but  it  sometimes 
produces  a  reaction,  and  impels  the  moralist  to  an  asceticism 
which  is  the  extreme  opposite  of  the  prevailing  spirit  of  society. 
The  means  which  moral  teachers  possess  of  acting  upon  their 
fellows  vary  greatly  in  their  nature  and  efficacy,  and  the  age  of 
the  highest  moral  teaching  is  often  not  that  of  the  highest  gen- 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  171 

For  a  high  standard  of  morality  not  only  is  it  es- 
sential that  the  brain  should  be  highly  developed  and 
capable  of  forming  abstract  conceptions^  which  shall 
be  so  firmly  implanted  in  it,  as  it  were,  as  to  automat- 
ically govern  our  thoughts  and  actions,  but  the  ac- 
quisition of  extended  experience  and  knowledge  is 
necessary  for  the  development  of  these  moral  concep- 
tions. When  this  latter  is  lacking  we  find  either  the 
moral  standard  is  low,  or,  if  high,  is  only  in  practice 
of  limited  application.  Thus  the  Indian,  who  regards 
the  murder  of  one  of  his  own  tribe  as  a  moral  crime, 
considers  the  killing  of  an  individual  of  a  foreign 
tribe  as  the  highest  virtue.  And  even  among  nations 
boasting  of  Christian  civilization,  w^e  find  different 
standards  of  ethics  in  force  within  the  nation  from 
that  which  it  practises  between  itself  and  foreign  na- 
tions. National  and  international  ethics  are  two  dif- 
ferent things.  When  our  knowledge  becomes  so  far 
extended  that  each  nation  shall  perceive  that  the  results 
of  a  high  degree  of  morality  will  be  as  beneficial  to  a 
nation  in  its  relations  to  another  as  in  the  relations  be- 
tween individuals,  a  much  higher  international  moral 
code  will  be  established  than  exists  to-day,  and  as  the 
principles  become  ingrained  in  the  mind,  they  will 
tend  by  inheritance  and  education  to  become  automatic 
and  dominant  in  regulating  international  conduct. 

After  those  modes  of  thought  called  moral  principles 
have  become  established  and  automatic,  it  makes  no 

eral  level  of  practice.  ...  In  addition,  therefore,  to  the  type 
and  standard  of  morals  inculcated  by  the  teachers,  an  historian 
must  investigate  the  realized  morals  of  the  people." — Lecky^s 
History  of  European  Morals.     Preface, 


172  HUMAN  AUTOMATISM, 

difference  by  what  process  they  have  become  evolved. 
Whatever  it  may  be^  their  influence  in  dominating  the 
conduct  is  the  same.  We  refrain  from  doing  any  act 
because  we  think  it  is  wrong,  and  we  do  something  else 
because  w^e  think  it  is  right,  and  we  judge  it  is  right  or 
wrong  according  as  it  is  or  is  not  in  harmony  with  cer- 
tain fixed  principles  which  have  been  formulated  as 
standards. 

But  while  this  is  the  case,  the  different  schools  of 
philosophy  markedly  differ  in  the  incentives  which  each 
offers  to  induce  an  adherence  to  moral  principles. 

In  the  theological  school  a  system  of  rewards  and 
punishments  plays  a  very  important  part  at  least,  and  in 
the  past  has  played  a  greater  part.  People  have  been 
taught  to  act  honestly  and  uprightly  in  order  that  they 
may  hereafter  be  rewarded,  and  warned  against  immor- 
ality by  the  fear  of  future  punishment.  We  are  urged 
to  a  certain  course  of  action  for  our  own  good  and  for 
our  own  benefit.  Compare  such  a  code  with  that 
offered  by  materialism  and  see  if  the  latter  loses  by 
the  comparison.  Instead  of  being  reminded  of  reward 
and  punishment,  we  are  told  to  act  uprightly  for  the 
common  benefit  of  humanity  and  of  the  human  race, 
not  for  the  sake  of  benefiting  ourselves  alone.  The 
individual  is  educated  to  regard  the  good  of  the  many 
as  that  for  which  the  individual  should  strive,  and  his 
reward  and  punishment  is  to  be  found  in  the  happiness 
or  unhappiness  of  his  fellow-beings. 

An  Italian  Jesuit  priest,  who  made  it  his  duty  to 
attend  those  dying  in  one  of  our  hospitals  and  help 
their  souls  onwards  as  they  started  on  their  final  jour- 
ney, once  fell  into  argument  with  me  on  the  subject  of 


HUMAN  AUTOMATISM.  173 

religion.  Becoming  finally  heated  with  the  argument, 
he  exclaimed,  with  more  candor  than  caution,  "  I  do 
not  care  for  the  broken  arms  and  the  broken  legs ;  the 
hospital  might  burn  up,  I  would  not  care.  It  is  a  little 
corner  for  myself  in  the  beautiful  land  I  wish  to  maJce.^^ 
I  suppose  that  he  regarded  each  soul  saved  as  scoring 
one  for  himself. 

Though  no  one  would  impute  such  selfish  motives  to 
the  majority  of  mankind,  still  it  is  hard  to  deny  that 
they  enter  into  theological  morality. 

Though  this  system  may  be  justified  by  the  fact  that 
the  world  is  not  yet  prepared  for  a  higher  code,  such 
as  that  offered  by  materialism,  the  system  is  not  thereby 
elevated.  It  is  a  fact,  and  a  melancholy  one,  that 
human  nature  is  weak,  and  in  its  present  state  of  de- 
velopment requires  to  be  stimulated  by  the  promise  of 
reward,  and  to  be  checked  by  the  threat  of  punishment; 
and  so-called  moral  philosophers  would,  if  they  were 
really  philosophers,  recognize  this  fact  with  its  neces- 
sary consequences,  and  cease  to  rail  at  the  existing 
order  of  things,  and  refrain  from  thrusting  their  own 
systems  of  philosophy,  however  elevating  theoretically, 
upon  a  world  unprepared  for  them. 

Theological  ethics  is  that  best  suited  for  the  control 
of  man  as  he  now  exists.  Whether  mankind  will  in 
the  future  attain  to  a  degree  of  development  which  will 
enable  the  individual  to  perform  a  duty  for  duty's  sake, 
without  hope  of  reward  or  fear  of  punishment,  is  a 
question  which  belongs  to  the  domain  of  speculation. 

At  present,  however  humiliating  may  be  the  thought, 
man,  like  the  brute,  can  only  be  tamed  and  morally  edu- 
cated by  the  alternate  use  of  sweetmeats  and  the  lash. 

15* 


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